Social media apps should provide parental controls, but many parents don’t use them.
Technology companies around the world have a commitment to the safety of children and young people online. Therefore, social media companies are obligated to moderate content and must also provide options for parents to protect the account. The popular Snapchat offers a Family Hub for this purpose, but this has not proven to be very successful. For the 20 million teens who use Snapchat in the United States, about 200,000 are parents who already set up parental controls.
Overall, this relates to approximately 400,000 Snapchat accounts for teens who were connected to the Family Hub. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel shares these numbers during he heard Concerning the safety of children on the Internet before the US Congress. It’s also the first time the company has provided numbers on Family Center usage. Other social media companies were also asked how many young people use the services and how many parents supervise them. Meta, TikTok, X, and Discord haven’t come up with numbers.
Enhanced parental controls
At Snap, that’s about 4% of young people who use social media under parental supervision. That doesn’t mean the app doesn’t promote the tool: Parents who install Snapchat will see a banner. Every person of the right age to have children will see such a sign sooner or later. Meta also announced that it will be advertising its parental controls on Facebook and Instagram, both on and off the platforms.
For X, CEO Linda Yaccarino announced that approximately 1% of users are minors. However, there are no parental control mechanisms on the X, although the CEO says they are working on it. TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew, praises himself and his platform, as it was “one of the first” to integrate parental control mechanisms into the app. However, he also cannot provide specific numbers on the use of these tools.
The usage numbers are probably roughly in line with Snapchat’s, where parental controls are not very popular. Although social media companies around the world are being asked to add parental control mechanisms, there doesn’t seem to be much demand for this from users. Figures on the use of parental controls in Europe are not available.