Experts Raise Concerns Over Meta’s Parental Controls

( – Despite most social media platforms providing tools that allow parents to track their children’s online activity, some experts have questioned whether relying on parental tracking is effective, the Washington Post reported.

Last week, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, introduced new parental controls designed to “make it simpler for parents to shape their teens’ online experiences.”

However, child safety experts at Meta have warned that parental controls are rarely being used by parents.

According to sources within the tech company, in 2022, less than 10% of teens using Instagram had the parental controls setting enabled on their accounts. Among those who did, only a tiny percentage of parents had made adjustments to the settings to track their children’s activity on Instagram.

Meta’s internal research found that there were numerous barriers for parents who try to track their children’s online activities. Often the parents have little or no understanding of the technology or lack the time to properly monitor their children’s activities.

According to child safety experts, parental control settings are weak throughout the industry, with social media companies absolving themselves of the responsibility to protect children by making the parents do all the work.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee addressed the effectiveness of parental controls in a hearing on the increased risk of online child exploitation.

The hearing featured several prominent tech CEOs, including X CEO Linda Yaccarino, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.

As concerns about toxic content and predators targeting children online have increased in recent years, parental controls have been embraced by tech companies.

In March 2022, Meta launched its parental supervision option for Instagram. Snapchat followed suit in August 2022, introducing its Family Center. After highly classified documents were leaked on Discord last year, the platform, which had previously condemned parental control tools, introduced its own Family Center.

Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have introduced legislation that would require social media platforms to allow parents to manage their children’s privacy settings and restrict digital purchases.

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