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Online Safety and Teens | Parenting with HarassedMom
Meta has introduced 4 new features to improve online safety for teens.

Online Safety and Teens

I recently attended a Youth Well-Being and Online Safety Workshop at Meta. They shared the products they have in place to help keep teens safe while they are using their apps (specifically Instagram).

The workshop raised a whole host of issues parents face around keeping children safe online. I have had kids online for about 10 years now and I think we have found a solution that works for us as a family but it is an ever-changing issue that we constantly have discussions about. 

Our Approach

Our parenting approach in general has always been to educate rather than restrict. This is what we did with our kids being online – we never restricted it or made it out as something evil and bad, instead we educated our kids and made sure they knew how to be online safely. AND we checked and monitored. 

I work in social media, I am well aware of the dangers that lurk in DM’s, chats and fake profiles. But I also know that social media is not going anywhere. It is a big part of the world my children are entering and it is my responsibility to prepare them. This does not mean we gave access and wished them well. 

It means we opened up conversations about the dangers online and we taught them how to behave online. We set boundaries and told them what to do if strangers reach out or they see something they aren’t comfortable with. And we monitored their activity. 

It worked out well for our older two children. And so far it is working out with our younger two. 

But having kids with such a big age difference means I am parenting two generations and we can see it with how they interact with social media. 

The older two (19 + 21) aren’t bothered too much about social media. They both lurk more than they share. They both kinda see through the bullsh*t of social media and don’t really take it too seriously. 

The younger two ( 9 + 12), however, are very aware of social media and very invested (or want to be). They both game and Emma is very keen to start her own YouTube channel when she is old enough. Their friends are also a lot more aware about social media than the older two’s friends were. Social media, for them, is very much a part of their lives and something they want to invest their time in. 

We have had to course correct a little with them because they want to be much more active than the other two but our approach has, largely, remained the same. We don’t restrict access but monitor and keep talking.

I think homeschooling helps manage this because we have more control over their time and incorporate a lot of screen-free time in their day where they are playing outside, interacting with other kids and just generally being kids. 

I don’t think the danger lies in the social media platforms but rather in parents assuming that the platforms are responsible for keeping their child safe. Ultimately it is our responsibility as parents to make sure our children are safe online. Meta and TikTok and SnapChat can add as many features as they want but if you aren’t monitoring what your child is doing, then you have a problem!

All of my kids understand (or understood) that if I can and will randomly check their phones. It has created a lot of transparency between us as a family but they still feel like they have a sense of privacy. 

4 New Meta Features

Meta are constantly trying to improve the user experience, including the teen user. They have developed these 4 new features to help your teen feel safer online. 

These features are only available if your teen entered their correct age. If they signed up as an “adult”, these features will not automatically be available. 

The new features include: 

  • New Parental Supervision tools on Instagramincluding the ability for parents to see how many friends in common their teen has with the accounts they follow / are followed by. 
  • New nudges to help teens manage their time on Facebook and Instagram: Building on the success of Take a Break and Quiet Mode, we’ll now start showing teens:
    • A notification when they’ve spent 20 minutes on Facebook, prompting them to take time away from the app and set daily time limits; and
    • A nudge on Instagram that suggests they close the app if they are scrolling Reels at night.
  • Quiet Mode, which is designed to help teens focus and set healthy boundaries with friends and followers, will roll out globally in the coming weeks, after initially launching in earlier this year.
  • New restrictions to protect people from unwanted DM requests: People will now only be able to send one DM request to someone who doesn’t follow them – and they can only continue to send DMs once the recipient has accepted their request to chat. These DM requests will also be limited to text-only – meaning people can only send images or videos to someone who doesn’t follow them after the recipient has accepted their request to chat. In practice, this means people will no longer be able to receive unsolicited images or videos from people they don’t follow.

These updates have been designed to help teens feel in control of their online experiences and help parents feel equipped to support their teens. We’ll continue to collaborate with parents and experts to develop additional features that support teens and their families. 

These updates do not absolve you, the parent, from responsibility. You still need to be actively involved in what your children are doing online to really keep them safe. 

Online Safety and Teens | Parenting with HarassedMom

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14 Responses

  1. I’m excited to hear that Meta is improving the user experience for the teen users. Thank you for highlighting the 4 new features geared toward teen safety online.

  2. I think you’re so right about educate not restrict. I know if my parents told me I couldn’t do something as a kid it would make me want to do it more. But knowing the risks and being educated would have more impact x

  3. This is so helpful to all the parents. Safety is the first thing we all need to see when it comes to our kids. Meta is the best.

  4. Being safe online for young people is getting more serious. It’s good to raise awareness and that they’re making changes.

  5. It is nice to learn about these safety features. Always nice to know that there are tools out there to help provide additional safety.

  6. I actually cannot wait until some of these features become available to everyone! Quiet mode sounds like a great setting to have.

  7. I appreciate your insightful article on online safety for teens and your personal approach to parenting in the digital age. It’s essential for parents to understand their responsibility in keeping their children safe online, and the new features introduced by Meta seem like valuable tools. Well-written and relatable!

  8. That’s good to know that Meta has introduced new features for the safety for the kids. I will have to check out the features too.

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