UAE: Today, Meta marks Safer Internet Day by bringing to light its suite of tools and updates to improve safety and experiences for both teens and parents using Meta’s platforms. To help young people foster online relationships in a safe environment, Meta collaborates with experts in mental health, child psychology, digital literacy and others to ensure safer experiences across its family of apps.

Setting safe boundaries for teens

In the past year alone, Meta has introduced several updates which include defaulting teens into more private settings at sign up and protecting them from unwanted interactions with adults who don’t follow them. This extends to protecting teens from receiving messages from suspicious adults they aren’t connected to or seeing them in People You May Know recommendations. Meta is also removing content that violates the platform’s policies and making  potentially sensitive content more difficult to find.

Teens are encouraged to report unsafe or suspicious activities, such as reporting accounts after blocking them and learning how to navigate inappropriate messages from adults.  Along with default privacy settings, teens can take safety further by choosing who can see their friends list; the people, Pages and lists they follow; posts they are tagged in on their profiles and more.

Tips for teens on Instagram:

  1. Build positive online habits with features like 'Take a Break' - spend more meaningful time online using features like 'Take a Break' and ‘Nudges’ that encourage you to both spend time away from Instagram and explore different topics while on Instagram.
  2. Set your boundaries with friends online via ‘Quiet Mode’ - a new feature intended to help people focus, manage their nighttime use and set healthier boundaries between friends and followers. Quiet mode is available to everyone in the US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and will be launched in more countries soon.
  3. Control what you see on Explore in settings - you can now choose to hide multiple pieces of content in Explore that they are not interested in.
  4. Prevent potentially offensive comments with ‘Hidden words’ - a tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis, so you never have to see them.
  5. Protect your account and turn on two-factor authentication - one of the most important things you can do to protect your account is turn on two-factor authentication.

Supporting parents and guardians

  • The recently launched Family Center offers educational resources from leading youth, safety, privacy and well-being experts on how to have conversations with teens about healthy and safe online habits.
  • Parental controls help parents and teens navigate their time online together. It is designed to strike the right balance between giving parents oversight, while preserving teens’ privacy and autonomy, and encouraging offline conversations about online habits. These tools allow parents and guardians to see who their teen follows and who follows them; when their teen shares, they’ve reported or blocked someone and see when their teen changes any of the default privacy settings. Parents can also see how much time their teen is spending on Instagram, set daily limits and schedule breaks when they don’t want their teen to be using the app.

Joelle Awwad, Head of Policy Programs, MENA at Meta, said: “The future is digital. While exciting and full of promise, our digital future also requires for us to collectively and carefully regulate how it evolves, informs and engages. It is why we at Meta work closely with leading experts, trusted organisations, parents and young people to build safe and positive online experiences. On Safer Internet Day, we want to raise awareness for the many platforms, resources and tools Meta offers to do just that for both teens and their parents or guardians. Such a framework can help ensure that our digital communities are respectful, thoughtful and equipped to make a positive impact on tomorrow’s world.”

Additionally, Meta’s flagship digital literacy program – My Digital World – was designed in partnership with experts across the MENA region to provide accessible learning modules and resources to build skills for a digital world. Meta recently kicked off its Adult Modules under My Digital World, which is targeted at those 18 years and above. Aiming to keep users in the region safe on the internet, the Adult Modules include Meta’s adults' digital literacy resources which are available in English, Arabic, and French. Through My Digital World, Meta is reaching learners across the region and shaping the Arab digital community for the better.

Meta is committed to building a safe, healthy, and supportive digital community across the MENA region by empowering youth with the skills they need to take ownership of their wellbeing online, helping them communicate and build meaningful connections while safeguarding their safety, for a positive impact on our communities worldwide. Meta will continue working with regulators, policymakers, and mental health experts to help make sure young people have safe, positive experiences on its platforms.