The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups, is calling on Instagram to stop its plans to create a version of the app for users under age 13.
According to the New York Times, in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, “the nonprofit groups warned that a children’s version of Instagram would not mitigate such problems” and “it could hook even younger users on endless routines of photo-scrolling and body-image shame.”
“The true audience for a kids’ version of Instagram will be much younger children who do not currently have accounts on the platform. While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line, it will likely increase the use of the app by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.”
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent the letter for Mark Zuckerberg this Thursday after learning that Facebook plans to build a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to “safely use Instagram for the first time.”
This story first appeared last month. A memo written by Instagram VP of product Vishal Shah says Facebook wants to offer a safe version of the app built entirely for kids:
“We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.”
Speaking to the NYT, a Facebook spokeswoman said that “Instagram was in the early stages of developing a service for children,” and that it “would not show ads in any Instagram product developed for children younger than 13.” Stephanie Otway said that “the reality is that kids are online. They want to connect with their family and friends.”
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, on the other hand, thinks the app can cause more harm than good to children:
“Research has found that Instagram, in particular, poses a number of serious challenges to young people’s wellbeing. The Royal Society for Public Health rated the app as the worst social media platform for youth mental health. Increased time on Instagram is linked to an increased risk for eating disorders for users. Cyberbullying is rampant on the app, and police reports in the UK documented more cases of sexual grooming on Instagram than any other platform.”
- Facebook reportedly working on a new version of Instagram for kids under 13
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