On Wednesday, Instagram head Adam Mosseri is set to testify before the Senate for the first time on the issue of how the app is impacting teens’ mental health, following the recent testimonies from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen; which have positioned the company as caring more about profits than user safety.
Just ahead of that hearing, Instagram has announced a new set of safety features; including its first set of parental controls.
The changes were introduced through a company blog post, authored by Mosseri.
Not all the features are brand new, and some are smaller expansions on earlier safety features the company already had in the works.
However, the bigger news today is Instagram’s plan to launch its first set of parental control features in March.
These features will allow parents and guardians to see how much time teens spend on Instagram and will allow them to set screen time limits.
Teens will also be given an option to alert parents if they report someone.
These tools are an opt-in experience; — teens can choose not to send alerts, and there’s no requirement that teens and parents have to use parental controls.
The parental controls, as described, are also less powerful than those on rival TikTok; where parents can lock children’s accounts into restricted experience, block access to search; as well as control their child’s visibility on the platform and who can view their content, comment or message them.
Screen time limits, meanwhile, are already offered by the platforms themselves — that is; Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems offer similar controls.
In other words, Instagram isn’t doing much here in terms of innovative parental controls, but notes it will “add more options over time.”
Another new feature was previously announced.
Instagram earlier this month launched a test of its new “Take a Break” feature; which allows users to remind themselves to take a break from using the app after either 10, 20 or 30 minutes, depending on their preference.
This feature will now officially launch in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.