#parent | #kids | Supervision functions coming to Instagram and VR

By C.J. Vetter

Hays County — You might know what your kids are doing at home or on Facebook, but do you know what they’re doing on Instagram and in virtual reality? 

If not, Meta — the social company that owns apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — is releasing a series of tools aimed at helping give parents better control over the habits and online interactions of their children. Released as updates to Instagram and their Oculus virtual reality headsets, these new features will allow parents to better connect with their teenagers and understand their habits. 

The first part of the update involves Instagram’s roll-out of a parent’s guide, which contains detailed videos and infographics that can help explain the numerous features of Instagram, as well as help educate parents on topics such as account safety, harassment reporting and cyberbullying prevention, or more broader cultural aspects of Instagram. 

“If you look at the zoomed out essence here, we know that parents are the best people to be in charge of what their teens are doing, so we want to make sure they have resources available to them,” said Roya Winner, Meta Communications Manager. “Really, this is another step to create intuitive tools for supervision, informed by experts, teens themselves and parents. We’re going to keep working on it. This is by no means a solved problem; it’s going to be something we keep working on.”

Instagram will also include new features, such as limiting the time when teenagers can access the app. For example, a parent may limit access during school hours or study time. Other features include allowing parents to see when their teenager reports an account, or leaving reminders for when a user is browsing too long. New nudges, or small messages, can also be sent to teens, encouraging them to view other content after looking at one feed for too long. 

“You can imagine its use during the school day or dinner time. Whatever that looks like for the family, the parents are able to create those limitations,” Winner said. “These decisions are all informed by experts, and we’re also adding more articles, resources and education for parents. Each of these will have resources for parents on what to do when their teen is getting cyberbullied or if they posted something they shouldn’t.” 

The other half of the update will be focused on the popular VR Oculus system, and will include features designed to limit what content can be accessed or purchased. Parents can place restrictions on what softwares can be purchased, and can also set preferences so that a parent’s permission must be obtained before purchasing apps. Parents can also view a user’s friend list and time spent on the Oculus, as well as block Airlink, a feature that allows users to access desktop content on their headset.

Many of these updates will already be active on a user’s phones and Oculus systems, while others will only be activated in other countries for the time being. For more information, visit about.fb.com/news for an in-depth overview of the update. 

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