After discussing the Facebook survey that revealed the company’s knowledge of its harmful effects on teenage girls, I started wondering whether the platform will see any changes in response.
Digging around the Instagram blog I found an entry from September 27 concerning the development of “Instagram Kids.” The blog post was published almost two weeks after the Wall Street Journal article about the Instagram research and announced the temporary hault of the development of an Instagram for tweens.
In the post, Adam Mosseri (the Head of Instagram) defends the development of a children’s version of Instagram and explains that the pause isn’t caused by hesitation about whether developing the app is a good idea. Rather, they are pausing the project to continue their focus on teen safety — he says as a response to the Wall Street Journal reporting and the discussions it caused.
Instagram Kids explained
As explained in the blog post, Instagram Kids is a new app that Facebook is developing so that children can be sheltered from the general Instagram environment, while still enjoying the platform.
Essentially, it’s supposed to function as a child-friendly version of Instagram so that parents have more control over the content that their children are exposed to through a bunch of parental control features; Instagram Kids will have age-appropriate content and features, won’t have any ads, and will require parental permission to join.
So, as the blog emphasizes, the “intention is not for this version to be the same as Instagram today.”
But should kids even be on Instagram?
Well, that’s the million dollar question. However, it’s a question that’s being asked to late. As Mosseri explains then children are already avid users of Instagram. Therefore, Instagram wants to follow the footsteps of YouTube and TikTok to develop an child-friendly version of the platform.
Ultimately, the goal isn’t to lure kids into using Instagram more — but to have them switch from a potentially unhealthy (dangerous?) version of the app to a safer one.
Why are they pausing the development then?
Well, you could put it crudely and say that Facebook is taking the time to lick their wounds, let the bad press settle down, and find a smarter way to market the new version.
Or you could give Facebook some credit, saying that they are reflecting on feedback, recognizing their mistakes, and taking the time to make a safer app.
In their own words, the pause is to “work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product.”
What do you think is most accurate?
Feature Image: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
I found discussing this blog post in the seminar really interesting! I remember hearing the premise of the article and immediately disagreeing: why should there be a children’s Instagram, they’re not supposed to be on it in the first place? However, after discussing it for a while I began to accept the argument that children will try and get onto Instagram in the first place, that’s just what they’re going to try and do; so, if it cat be stopped, regulate it. I now understand and accept these arguments. Plus, in order for parents to have safe sensible conversations with their children about being safe online, then these topics must be addressed and we should probably accept that. Surely, denying access to social media sites and mystifying them will just attract children to them more; but also, if it worked with YouTube Kids, then perhaps this isn’t such a crazy suggestion after all.
Instagram Kids is wrong on so many different levels. From the scientific point of view, social media is dopamine-driven. We need to bear this in mind when it comes to children. Allowing kids to consume persuasive technology at an early stage of their lives might result in harmful consequences.
Here you can read more about children’s health in the digital age: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246471/