Instagram launches ‘Take a Break’ and other safety features for teens

Instagram has launched a number of new and experimental features meant to make its app a safer place for teens ahead of Adam Mosseri’s Senate testimony. To start with, it’s launching the previously announced “Take a Break” feature in the US, UK, Canada and Australia today. Now, when a user has been scrolling Instagram for quite some time, the app will ask them to take a break and to set reminders for the future. Teens, in particular, will get notifications to set those reminders on to make sure they’re aware of the feature. They’ll also see expert-backed tips to help them “reflect and reset.”

In March, Instagram will be launching tools for parents and guardians that will give them a way to view how much time their kids are spending on the app and to set time limits. Teens will get the option to notify their parents if they report someone, as well, serving as a way to signal the adults in their life that they may need to talk about it. 

One of the experimental features Instagram is testing will come in handy for teens and young adults who want to remove their activity on the app from when they were a lot younger. It will allow users to bulk delete the photos and videos they posted, as well as all their likes and comments. The feature will be available to everyone in January. 

Another test feature will expand what Instagram started earlier this year when it prohibited adults from DMing teens who don’t follow them. Early next year, it will also switch off the ability to tag or mention teens by adults who don’t follow them, or to include their content in Reels Remixes or Guides. Finally, it’s exploring the possibility of limiting the sensitive content teens see even more and is currently building an experience that would nudge users towards another topic if they’ve been scrolling one topic for a while. 

Instagram head Adam Mosseri is set to testify this week as part of a series of hearings about protecting kids online. Instagram and Facebook have come under fire in recent months after whistleblower Frances Haugen told Congress about the social networks’ effect on teens based on Meta’s own research. Haugen made a lot of disclosures about Facebook’s algorithms and other internal systems, and one of the things she revealed was that “engagement-based ranking on Instagram can lead children from very innocuous topics like healthy recipes… to anorexia-promoting content over a very short period of time.”

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