Experts in digital safety
In September 2021, after considerable parent backlash, social giant Instagram announced that it would be pausing development of Instagram Kids, and focusing instead on building parental supervision tools. But what can families do with these new features and tools? Let’s take a look at everything parents and guardians need to know about Instagram supervision, and what it means for your teenager on social media.
Does Instagram have parental controls?
The new Instagram supervision features for over-13s, penned by the platform as “a version of Instagram that’s designed for them”, are being rolled out across 2022. Supervision tools are available for teens aged 13-17, with features automatically turning off on their 18th birthday.
These features, just like TikTok’s own native parental controls, and YouTube Kids, limit your child somewhat on the app, making Instagram a more collaborative experience for families and helping you become more involved in your child’s life on social media. In order to get started with Instagram supervision, it’s important to bear in mind that you’ll need your own account to supervise from.
What can I do with Instagram’s parental supervision?
The native parental control tools on Instagram allow you to:
- See your teen’s followers, and who they’re following
- Set time limits
- Schedule Instagram downtimes on select days and during select times
- Get insights into how long your teen is spending on Instagram, during that day, on average, and in total
- Be notified when your child is followed by someone new
Your teen also has access to certain features through supervision. They’ll be able to see a preview of what you see once supervision is set up, and when they report an account or activity, you’ll be notified about it.
It’s important to note that parental supervision is only tied to an individual Instagram account, so if your child has multiple accounts that they manage, such as a hobby account, you’ll need to set up parental supervision for all of them.
When you supervise an account, it happens through a space called Family Center, which in the future Meta will offer as a space for families to manage supervision tools across all their platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and VR (virtual reality).
How can I set up Instagram supervision?
To get started, your teen has to first send an invite for you to supervise them, which means everyone has to be on board about the decision – which as a parent, we’re sure you know is no mean feat. We’d recommend sitting down as a family before setting up parental controls, and making sure your child understands what your goals are and what you want to work on together.
Supervision can only be set up using a mobile device. To actively set up Instagram supervision, your child will need to open their account. Once there, they should go to their profile page, where in the top right, you’ll see three vertical lines that will open their settings.
- Go to Settings > Supervision > Next.
- Tap Set up supervision.
- Choose how you want to receive the invitation (in the Instagram app, or through another messaging platform, for example).
- Open the invite link to be directed to the Family Center.
- Hit Next > Accept Invite.
- Your teen will have to confirm the parent or guardian from their own account.
You can also invite your child through your own Instagram as a parent, but your child will have to accept. Parents or guardians can head to the same settings page, then click Supervision > Family Center > Create invite. This invitation can be re-sent during the following 48 hours.
Is Instagram parental control available everywhere?
As of June 2022, parental supervision for Instagram is only available in the US, with rollouts later in the month for the UK, Japan, Ireland, Canada, France, and Germany. By the end of the year, more countries across the world are expected to receive the update.
For regions which don’t currently offer parental supervision on Instagram, global parental control tools like Qustodio can be a great solution. With Qustodio, parents and guardians can set time limits, block apps, and help teens develop healthier digital lifestyles. In addition, unlike Instagram parental controls, these tools cannot be turned off from the child’s version of the app.
How to talk to your child about supervision
The drawback surrounding Instagram supervision is that your child can deactivate these features at any time, meaning it’s very important that they understand why these tools exist for parents and guardians. Here are some important things to bear in mind when you talk to your child about parental controls:
- Reinforce that you’re creating an environment of trust. Digital wellbeing tools and supervision settings exist, not because the child is untrustworthy, but because the internet can be a dangerous place and you’re looking out for their safety.
- Limits help us to enjoy the things we love. Just like a healthy diet, digital wellbeing is about balance, where downtime and boundaries are necessary. Supervision tools help to make achieving this balance easier.
- Focus on partnership, not an uphill battle. If your child doesn’t want to have supervision tools, or they frequently uninstall parental controls, try to shift to a dialogue of understanding and collaboration. Keep the conversation going until you strike a balance, rather than outright bans – which often backfire!
As your child grows, revisit your rules, shared family values, and strategies on a regular basis. By helping to empower your child, and teaching them about social media – both the good and bad – you’ll be setting them up with healthy social media habits that stand the test of time, and allow you all to make the most of technology together.