Attorney Generals in 41 states are suing Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram claiming
the company knowingly uses features that get kids hooked on the social media networks.
In the lawsuit, Meta is accused of designing “psychologically manipulative produce features to
induce young users’ compulsive and extended use” of platforms such as Instagram.
Many parents have complained for years that social media sites use tactics to get kids (and
many adults) hooked on using them and spend countless hours scrolling through the news
Parents do have tools available to restrict how much time their kids can use social media apps
but whether they work is another matter.
Instagram has a feature called “Supervisors” that allows parents to monitor and restrict what
their kids do on the app but it is limited.
To find out what parents can see, I created a new Instagram account as a 17-year-old and
invited myself on my primary Instagram account to be a supervisor.
As a supervisor, I could set time limits and see who had become followers of the 17-year-old
Within two minutes of setting up the child’s account, I received a half-dozen follower requests
and two pornographic videos or links. When I checked the account in supervisor mode, I could
only see who was following the account but even though I had turned off “message requests”, I
did not see any conversations between my 17-year-old Instagram account and its new
Parents may be familiar with some of the tools and features that smartphones have on them.
Android phones have Google’s “Family Link” feature that allows a parent to set time limits and
restrictions on the child’s phone. But there are two things that might give parents concern. First,
the child must have their own Google account and email and once the child turns 13, “Family
Link” is turned off automatically.
Apple’s Screen Time controls allow parents to set time restrictions and limit apps and websites.
Parents can set time limits for all social media or individual accounts along with games and
Many parents don’t know that those app time limits are not affected if the child visits the
websites of social media platforms. For example, a parent might set a time limit for the
Instagram app for 1 hour a day. After the hour has passed, the child can visit their account at
instagram.com in incognito mode and that time is not counted or even visible to parents.
To block that workaround, parents should open settings on their child’s phone, and select screen
time, Content, and Privacy Restrictions to block inappropriate websites.
Then under “Content restrictions”, they can turn on “Limit Adult Websites” under web content.
By turning this off, it blocks the child or user from accessing “Incognito Mode” in the Safari
This will not affect the ability to use incognito or private mode using a different web browser
such as Chrome or Firefox.