Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, plans on expanding the company with the addition of Instagram Kids, a child-friendly version of the popular app, and people are not happy. Instagram Kids is facing backlash from everyone from parents to attorney generals.
Instagram Kids Faces Backlash
Attorney Generals in 44 states have objected to the formation of the app. Recently, they all cosigned a letter to Zuckerberg urging him to abandon the plans. Additionally, Congress has also made statements that oppose ‘Instagram Kids’.
The letter from the attorney generals states, “research shows a link between young people’s use of social media and the “increase in mental distress, self-injurious behavior and suicidality among youth.”
The attorney generals believe that Instagram Kids would put the safety of children at risk. Research shows social media puts stress on young kids. The attorney generals do not want Facebook to move forward with the project.
Dealing With Digital Age Kids
Today’s youth do not know what a world without technology and social media looks like. They came into a world that is reliant on cellphones and social media. This has created new issues. How do we keep kids safe online? When can kids handle social media?
Facebook believes the best way to keep children safe online is to give them a platform. In a statement, Facebook stated, “As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing.” They plan on consulting with specialists in child development, child safety, and mental health, and privacy. They also plan to cooperate with legislators and regulators. Specifically, they want to ease the concerns of attorney generals.
Instagram Kids is also fully committed to not showing advertisements. Targeted advertisements have been a controversial topic for adult users and this is a big step for Facebook.
However, Congress along with the 44 attorney generals have concerns. Most of the concerns revolve around the privacy and mental health of the children. Children under the age of 13 have previously been kept away from social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Instagram Kids is entering unprecedented territory.
Another concern: online predators. With a site specifically designed for kids, predators could potentially create fake accounts to talk to them. Age verification is a security measure that social media has not been able to tackle. Underage kids use fake birth dates to create Instagram and Facebook accounts every day. If measures are not taken to verify ages, Instagram Kids could potentially be dangerous.
Kids today have had an unprecedented amount of exposure to social media, but will giving them a platform to use at such a young age benefit or hurt them in the long run? Instagram Kids is facing backlash for possibly putting kids at risk for online bullying and harassment, a regular occurrence on other Facebook-owned sites.
Why Instagram Kids?
The move to create Instagram Kids doesn’t align with the previous stances that Facebook and Instagram have taken regarding children and social media. Currently, both platforms require users to be over the age of 13. Instagram also recently banned adults from direct messaging users under the age of 18.
It appears that Zuckerberg and Facebook believe that children need to be protected online and see both Facebook and Instagram as inappropriate for young children.
Children however are an untapped market for social media. It’s the last great frontier for Zuckerberg and Facebook to tackle. By getting younger generations involved with social media from an earlier age they are able to have a subconscious hold on them for the duration of their lives. Instagram is creating a user-platform relationship with these children, making them reliant on social media.
Social media has always been a part of today’s children’s lives. Kids have watched older siblings and parents use it for years. Children know about social media and by creating a kid-friendly version of Instagram they are creating not only a new platform but are also creating future Facebook and Instagram users.
Although Instagram Kids seems to completely oppose Facebook’s current stance on children using social media, there is a large financial benefit awaiting Facebook if it is able to successfully create the platform. They will be gaining an entire age bracket that their competitors do not have.
Whether or not Facebook will create Instagram Kids has yet to be determined. If the social media platform becomes a reality there are more challenges ahead.
Bullying, harassment, sexism, racism, and more plague every social media site. Instagram Kids will need to tackle these issues. They need to address these issues if they want to be successful. Safety is the biggest concern when it comes to children and social media. If Instagram Kids cannot find a way to keep kids safe the app will not be successful.
Instagram will also need to learn how to restrict posts. One of the biggest backlashes that they are currently facing is that children are not equipped to handle social media. There is an argument that children will not understand what is and isn’t appropriate to share online. In a world that constantly canceling people for their past social media actions, it is important that these kids will understand the gravity of their online footprint.