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Instagram introduces new prompts to help young users avoid negative consequences.

In response to concerns about the misuse and the mental health effects of comparison in the app, Instagram is introducing some new in-app ‘nudges’ to assist limit adverse effects on younger users.

The new nudges will be delivered in two ways, the first of which will be a completely new notice aimed to steer users away from potentially dangerous topics.

According to Instagram:

“If teens in certain countries are continually viewing the same type of content on Explore, they will receive a message encouraging them to move to a different topic. This push is intended to inspire youngsters to try something new while excluding some topics that could be linked to attractiveness comparison.”

Comparing appearances is a major concern. The Wall Street Journal revealed last year that the company’s own research had shown that Instagram was especially detrimental for teen girls, leading to increased suicidal ideation, as part of its ‘Facebook Files’ series, which analyzed a collection of internal documents obtained from inside Meta.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal,

“32% of teen females reported that when they were unhappy with their bodies, Instagram made them feel much worse.”

This new notice is another tool for combating this problem, albeit its effectiveness will be determined by how many people are searching for specific themes rather than following individual users or accounts. These nudges will only be given in reaction to search activity on specified themes, according to Instagram’s description, which seems to limit their usefulness to some extent.

Instagram claims they’ll have an influence in any case:

“We created this new feature because research shows that nudges can help individuals – particularly teenagers – be more aware of how they’re using social media at the time. In a study on the effects of nudges on social media use, 58.2 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that nudges improved their social media experience by assisting them in becoming more attentive to their time on the platform. Our own study demonstrates that they work: one out of every five youths who saw our new nudges moved to a different topic over a one-week test period.”

For any genuine context, further information is essential. What was the total number of users in the test pool? How many people are looking for dangerous topics rather than comparing themselves to others on their main feed? On average, how often were these nudges shown?

There’s not a lot of information available to determine the entire potential of this feature, but Instagram will presumably provide more information in the future.

In addition, Instagram is releasing revised ‘Take a Break’ reminders that will feature well-known app creators, perhaps increasing resonance.

Late last year, Instagram debuted its Take a Break prompts, with this new campaign relying on well-known celebrities to boost participation.

“Through funding and education, we’re empowering young creators in the United States to publish more content on Instagram that inspires youth and supports their well-being.” “A Steering Committee of experts in child psychology and digital literacy will provide guidance on evidence-based ways for creators in the program to use language that strengthens emotional well-being and self-image, how to create responsible online content, and how creators can look after themselves and their communities on and offline,” says the press release.

Using popular creators to raise awareness and encourage young people to take a step back from the online environment rather than being drawn down into the worst of it could be the most effective method to do it.

In any case, both are worthwhile Instagram experiments, and while I have my doubts about the true reach and utility of the topical nudges, anything that can be done to improve the well-being of children and adolescents should be integrated in the app.

Instagram is also introducing new parental control features to assist parents to regulate their children’s app usage.

Parents and guardians will now be able to send invites to minors to activate these monitoring tools, set particular periods to limit teens’ use of IG, and view teen reports on an account and/or post, in addition to the existing parental controls.

I don’t think many teenagers will be eager to let their parents in, and I imagine there will be plenty of fights as a result – but in any case, it allows for a more collaborative, trust-centered approach to app supervision and management.

Social media has a lot of potential for connection and community because it allows individuals to share their lives and experiences with one another, which can be extremely beneficial in a variety of ways.

However, there are considerable drawbacks as well. While Meta has previously attempted to downplay those effects, it’s encouraging to see that it is still taking action on this front.

Users in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are testing the new nudge alerts, with more regions to follow in the coming months.

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