Following concerning findings about the effect of social media use on teens’ mental health, Instagram has announced plans to implement several new safety and mental health features in early 2022. These include parental controls and a new “Take a Break” feature.
New parental control features are expected to be released in March and will include options for parents to set time limits on Instagram use as well as see how much time their children are spending on the app. Participating parents will also be notified when their child blocks someone.
For adults and kids alike, the new “Take a Break” feature will allow users to receive a notification from the app once they have been scrolling for a certain amount of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 minutes. In trial launches, Instagram found 90 percent of users left the break feature on after trying it out. This feature is already being rolled out in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and will be available globally early next year.
Additionally, Instagram will, by default, no longer allow users to tag or mention teenage users. A new bulk delete feature will also make it easier to delete chunks of posts, likes, and comments to allow users to better “manage their digital footprint.”
Although the new features are a step in the right direction, many say they are not enough to negate the negative impact of social media use, especially on young users. For many parents, restricting social media use altogether is the only way to prevent exposure to harmful and targeted content.