Among the tools includes the platform nudging teens towards different topics if they’ve been dwelling for too long, a Take A Break feature, and stopping users from tagging teens if they don’t follow them. The company is also introducing tools for parents to track how much time their teens spend on Instagram, set time limits, and explore a new educational hub. Teens will also soon have the ability to notify their parents when they report someone. Not all of these tools are available just yet, and the tools for parents and guardians are slated to launch in March.
“We’ll continue doing research, consulting with experts, and testing new concepts to better serve teens,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri wrote in a blog post on Tuesday announcing the new features.
On Wednesday, Mosseri is set to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security. He’ll likely be questioned about Instagram’s harm to young users.
“I’m proud that young people use Instagram to connect with the people that matter to them most, to explore their interests, and to even explore their identities,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said on an Instagram post about the new safety features. “But none of that works unless people feel safe on Instagram.”
And it’s true — young people haven’t been particularly safe on the platform for some time.
According to Meta’s own internal research revealed by the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files, social comparison and body image issues are high for all Instagram users, but impacted teens more than adults — some of the most “intense experiences” for young users was social comparison, loneliness, stress and depression. Nearly half of all teen girls on Instagram feel they “often or always compare their appearance” to others on the platform, and a third “feel intense pressure to look perfect.”
The platform has already been toying with ways to make it a better place for young people online, but many of their efforts have landed unsuccessfully. In May, the platform announced that users would have the option to hide like counts on all posts in their feed, and hide like counts on their own posts. Internally, it was called “Project Daisy” — like “Does she love me? Or love me not?” — according to the New York Times. The platform found that removing likes didn’t depressurize Instagram, because, in reality, removing likes without getting rid of other elements of quantified popularity is a failed experiment from the start.
The platform also considered another now-failed experiment — Instagram Kids. It would have been a modified version of the app with additional parental controls, but Facebook dropped the project, saying in a statement that building Instagram Kids is “the right thing to do” but not the right time.
For now, some parents and teens could benefit from the new safety updates for teens on the platform. But, if history is any indication, you may not want to hold your breath for an Instagram that treats young people well.
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