Layout from Instagram on iPhone 11 ProSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

What you need to know

  • Instagram is rolling out new tools to help keep kids safe on the social network.
  • People won't be able to send DMs to someone under 18 if they don't follow them.

Instagram today announced that it is putting some new measures in place to help keep kids safe on its social network. The most interesting of the new changes is the restriction of DMs, preventing adults from sending messages to under-18s if they don't follow them.

The move is aimed at ensuring that kids only receive messages from people they know rather than random people across Instagram. This will, of course, need kids to have entered their real details when signing up to Instagram.

To protect teens from unwanted contact from adults, we're introducing a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don't follow them. For example, when an adult tries to message a teen who doesn't follow them, they receive a notification that DM'ing them isn't an option. This feature relies on our work to predict peoples' ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up. As we move to end-to-end encryption, we're investing in features that protect privacy and keep people safe without accessing the content of DMs.

Instagram also has a new Parents Guide that it hopes will give parents the information they need to help keep their kids safe online.

We want parents to have the information to help their teens have a safe and positive experience on Instagram. In the US, we've collaborated with The Child Mind Institute and ConnectSafely to publish a new Parents Guide. It includes the latest safety tools and privacy settings and a list of tips and conversation starters to help parents navigate discussions with their teens about their online presence. This updated Guide has launched with expert partners in other countries including Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore and will be rolled out in more countries soon. This also complements our existing Parents' Guides which provide support for parents in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, which were developed in partnership with local safety experts.

As much as Instagram was built on sharing phone photos it's now becoming somewhere that people share their professional images, too. People using some of the best digital cameras on the planet are posting to Instagram and it's a great place to see some amazing work. But like most of the internet, Instagram can be dangerous as well. The more work Instagram and Facebook can put in to help keep kids safe, the better.