The Smartphone Dilemma The smartphone presents a useful tool for children still in school, but it can also be a potent time-wasting tool. We have talked about this a lot. Kids need smartphones and they have to be on social media. Fighting this is a losing battle, so the best thing to do is monitor how your child (or nephew/niece) uses their phone.

The Impact of Instagram on Kids There is now indisputable evidence that Instagram is not good for kids, especially teens and more so, teen girls. Meta, the owners of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, found that Instagram is detrimental to kids’ mental health. It leads to anxiety and depression in both boys and girls, although it’s worse for girls. Good luck trying to stop them from using it though.

Meta’s Response: Parental Controls Meta has known about the negative impact of Instagram for years but is now introducing features that let parents peek into what their children are doing on Messenger and Instagram. Anyone under 18 is considered a child. Meta has been adding parental controls over the years, some of which you might not be familiar with. There are some new ones rolling out globally right now.

Parental Control Features Here are a few of the features:

  • Daily time limits: Parents can set daily time limits for their teens’ use of Instagram and Messenger. This can help prevent teens from spending too much time on the apps and can also help them develop healthy digital habits.
  • Viewing teen’s activity: Parents can view their teen’s activity on Instagram and Messenger, including the accounts they follow, the posts they like, and the comments they make. This can help parents keep an eye on what their teens are doing on the apps and identify any potential problems. Do note that you won’t be able to read messages though.
  • Getting notifications: Parents will receive notifications if their teen reports someone on Instagram or Messenger, if they block someone, or if they change their privacy settings. This can help parents stay up-to-date on their teen’s activity and intervene if necessary.

Specific Controls for Instagram

  • If your kid does not follow a person, they will not be able to tag your kid on their posts.
  • If your kid does not follow a person who is over 19, they will not be able to tag your kid private messages.
  • People who don’t follow your kid must send an invite to get permission to connect. The invite to connect cannot be a photograph, video, or call-based. Also, only one invite can be sent at a time until it’s accepted; nothing else can be sent.

Specific Controls for Messenger Parents can see contact lists, who messages their kid, how much time is spent in the app, and who can see Messenger stories.

Trying Out Parental Controls If you are a guardian over an under-19 human you just have to try these parental controls. It’s the least you can do.

To set up parental controls on Instagram, parents can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Instagram app and go to their profile.
  2. Tap the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Tap Supervision.
  5. Tap Get started.
  6. Enter their teen’s Instagram username and tap Send invite.
  7. Their teen will receive an invite to enable parental supervision. Once they have enabled it, parents will be able to view their activity and set controls.

You may not see Supervision settings in Messenger yet; they will be rolling out to you soon.

Do note though that there are ways to get around some of these controls. For the best results, you will need your kid to cooperate. Your kid could give you access to an account while they have a different account you don’t know about, for example.

It remains that no controls are good enough to counter bad parenting or a rebellious teen. However, do remember that you still have the option to exert control over the whole device and not just the Meta apps.

By Shamiso Miracle

Shamiso Miracle completed her degree in journalism and media studies at the University of Zimbabwe before honing her skills at Savanna News. She then went on to work at iHarare News, becoming a voice for everyday SA citizens who wanted to share their stories. When she's not writing news that entertains and inspires ,Shamiso is an avid reader and a wellness bunny.

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