Social media for children is a hot topic among many people. With the announcement that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to open the discussion even further by creating an Instagram for kids, the topic is heating up even more. Worldwide experts and advocates are coming together saying that this platform will exploit children even further.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is leading a coalition with other groups and researchers. These groups including the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Sense Media are directing their concerns towards Zuckerberg. The groups claim that social media for children with photos and videos like Instagram should have an age restriction. They claim children under the age of 13 might be exploited and will have trouble staying away from the site. Experts fear they crave approval so much that it will stunt their developmental growth.Read More »
Facebook spokeswoman Stephanie Otway reiterated Zuckerberg’s plan. She stated that they would prioritize the privacy and safety of children. She said they would consult child development, mental health, and child safety experts. She went on to say that children are already online. They want to connect with other people while having a good time and learning at the same time. She explained they need to do this in an age-appropriate way. Many of these children lie about their age to get on certain apps, she added. Instagram for kids would be managed by parents. It would also be free without ads.
Facebook also announced an update to Instagram’s privacy settings and also its safety tools concerning teenagers. Some of the lawmakers that Zuckerberg met with still aren’t sure about the strategies. Congresswomen Lori Trahan and Kathy Castor along with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey wrote Facebook a letter asking for more answers about the new Instagram for Kids. These questions included asking about the company’s commitment to audits. Audits involved content, marketing, and privacy would need to be done on a regular occasion. They also asked if the leaders would make an Instagram for kids that wouldn’t include a vanishing mode or stories. This would make it tough to follow bullying online and child exploitation.
CEO of the Common Sense Media Jim Steyer said he believes Facebook is tricking kids into hooking them at a vulnerable age. Instagram and Facebook do not have credibility, he said. He claims they have proven their priority is money using addictive and manipulative tactics. This keeps users on the app longer scrolling and making them more money. He also stated Instagram can cloud someone’s perception of themselves. Instagram for kids would open the door for younger kids to see more negative content leading to a new generation that could have mental health problems. He even said that Facebook needs to create better privacy for adult members.
The letter to Zuckerberg stated that they did not believe children that already have Instagram accounts would change over to a more “babyish” style of the platform. They believe the new platform would bring in the younger children that don’t yet have any set account. They urged Zuckerberg to abandon his plans.
Instagram did introduce new privacy tools for teens. These included ways that adults cannot communicate with anyone this age through the direct messaging system. If the youths don’t follow the adult on Instagram, the adult cannot reach them this way.
Facebook launched Messenger Kids already. It’s become popular for kids ages 6-12 as a texting app aimed at their age. The experts asked Zuckerberg when his business models would stop potentially harming children.