Meta rolls out parental supervision tools for Quest VR headsets

Instagram is also expanding teen safety features to more countries.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Meta is introducing new parental supervision features for Quest virtual reality headsets and Instagram. The VR safety tools, which were announced in March, are rolling out worldwide.

The parental supervision process needs to be initiated on a teen's account (the minimum age to have a Facebook account is 13). A Parent Dashboard in the Oculus app will allow parents and guardians to block apps (including web browsers), see a list of apps on the teen's account and view their friends list. A teen can ask to buy an age-restricted app, then their parent can approve or deny the request. Parents can also view headset screen time, receive alerts when an app is purchased and block the Link and Air Link features to stop teens from using PC content on their headset.

On top of that, Meta is debuting a parent education hub, which includes information about the VR supervision options. The company says it worked with industry experts, teens, parents and policymakers on these controls. It will refine the tools over time.

At the start of this year, the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK said it would hold talks with Meta over how Quest 2 complies with a children's code that's designed to protect young users. These new measures could go some way toward addressing the watchdog's concerns.

Meanwhile, Instagram's parental supervision tools, which launched in the US in March, will arrive in the UK, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France and Germany this month with some expanded options. Parents can now invite teens to set up supervision tools (rather than requests solely coming from teen accounts).

Parents and guardians can limit access to Instagram at certain times by scheduling breaks. They can view more details about an account or post their teen reports, including the person in question and the type of report. They can also see which users their teen follows and who follows them. Instagram plans to roll out the tools globally later this year.

In the UK and Ireland, Instagram is testing a nudge feature. Teens will be encouraged to look at different posts if they spend too much time with the same kind of content in the Explore tab. The aim is to prompt them to be more mindful of their Instagram use. As part of a different test, teens in certain countries may see a prompt to turn on the Take a Break feature after watching Reels for a while.

Elsewhere, Instagram is adding more resources to its educational Family Center. There's a new page that provides teens with details about privacy settings for Quest, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. Parents and guardians can access information about how to talk to kids about online safety issues.