Instagram has announced a number of new features designed to offer greater protection to young users, both from the negative impacts of over-use of the app and from predators that may be lurking within its network.
But context is important here.
As a brief summary, back in September, as part of the exhibition The Facebook Files, several internal reports of the company were published which show that Instagram cand have detrimental effects on the mental health of users, and that Facebook – now Meta – was well aware of this fact. Facebook has denied this, claiming it is a small data exercise and not widely indicative, but as a result, the U.S. Senate has called on Meta executives to answer questions about the potential damage Instagram is doing.
Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis faced a Senate appeal in September, and this week, after agreeing to appear late last month, Instagram boss Adam Moseri will now also be questioned.
That sets the stage for today’s post, in which Instagram notes several times that it works on these ‘long time’ updates.
Make it what you want.
If we take into account the time consideration, the incentive here is positive, as it will provide more protection to young users in different ways.
First, Instagram has announced a new parental control option that will enable pparents and guardians to set limits on how much time their teens spend in the app.
As you can see here, the new option will also allow parents to see how much time their child is currently spending on the app – although I can only imagine the anger if a parent decides to allow their child only 30 minutes a day online.
In addition, teenagers will now be able to notify their parents if they report someone, which will allow parents to become more involved in the process. Instagram says this is the first version of these tools, with more options that will be available over time.
This could be a good way for parents to maintain a level of custody over their teenage screen, which, given the aforementioned impacts of using Instagram, could be a significant advantage.
In addition to this, Instagram has officially announced its new one Let’s recall the ‘Take a Break’, which was spotted during testing early last month.
As shown here, the new option will allow users to set reminders to take some time off the app after a certain period of activity, with activity reminders of 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
Instagram is also launching new in-app queries to introduce young users to the tool:
“To make sure teens are aware of this feature, we’ll show them notices that suggest including these reminders. Early test results show that when teens set reminders, more than 90% of them continue. Today we are launching this function in the USA, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and we will bring it to everyone at the beginning of next year. “
Instagram really had Time limit reminders available from 2018, so functional, this new feature adds nothing. But perhaps, through these queries, it could lead more users to be more aware of the time they spend scrolling, which, as Instagram notes, gave good results in the early stages.
Instagram is also launching a new one bulk delete options, which will allow users to quickly and easily delete all their photos, videos, likes and comments.
Although it also wants to further limit unwanted exposure to teens by removing it the ability for people to tag or mention teenagers who don’t follow them, or to include their content in Reels Remixes or Guides by default.
“We are testing these changes to further reduce the chance that teenagers will hear those they don’t know or don’t want to hear, and we plan to make them available to everyone early next year.”
These features are based on previous Instagram updates that restrict adults from sending messages to teenagers who don’t follow them, and can help further limit unwanted, predatory behavior in the app.
And finally, Instagram is adding a new process that will encourage users to check out other topics if they’ve been dealing with certain topics for too long.
Research shows that these types of incentives, at the right time, can be helpful in leading young users to broaden their horizons rather than fixate on certain elements. New inquiries are coming soon, and Instagram will post more information soon.
The last key element is that Instagram is also developing new ways to check people’s age, which could help prevent very young people from signing up for the app.
Combined, the various tools work to address several key areas of concern, and it will be convenient for Mosseri to have these upgrades as reference points in his upcoming appearance in the Senate.
Although the timing is a bit handy and suggests that Instagram may have worked earlier. If research has shown that these were elements of concern, and as Instagram notes, they’ve actually been working on them for ‘a long time’, why not implement them sooner? Why have we waited until now, just before the Senate hearing, to take the next steps regarding each?
Again, skepticism aside, the real benefits of these updates could be significant, so if you divide the motivation into parts, it’s worth considering the value of such in your process.
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