In March, Facebook confirmed that it is working on a project that will give rise to a special version of Instagram for kids, which will give children under 13 years of age the possibility of making supervised and limited use of the platform.
In response, a letter to Facebook was published, issued by a group of 35 consumer defense associations, together with 64 experts on childhood who signed individually. The text contains a request for the company to dismiss this initiative.
Collective request to stop the creation of an Instagram Kids
The petition was spearheaded by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a US organization dedicated to protecting children in digital environments. Through his website, was released a 10 page letter which sets out the grounds of the signatories to submit this request. Also, through the same portal, is open a collective petition, which seeks to collect additional signatures from other Internet users adhering to the cause.
The issuing group of this letter, based on recent studies, affirms that exposure at an early age to social networks can influence their personal development and activate certain dangers. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of getting lost and their peer approval desire to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers., points to part of the letter.
In these spaces, having a greater exposure or presenting indicators of popularity in the network, may originate in social or self-imposed pressures. This problem, common in the young audience of the platform, could be presented in a more aggressive way in a younger audience, according to what was raised in the letter. The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to the privacy and well-being of teens. Younger children are even less equipped to deal with these challenges as they are learning to navigate social interactions, friendships, and their inner sense of strengths and challenges during this crucial window of development., mentions another fragment of the text.
The petition also emphasizes other types of collateral effects of early over-exposure to screen use that Instagram would eventually wake up to its new target audience. Lower quality of sleep, reduced psychological well-being, and potential for developing depression, suicidal thoughts, or obesity.
Another worrying indicator mentioned in the letter is the publication of sexualized content on the networks, a growing trend in adolescents, used as a way to attract greater attention, underestimating the associated risks, such as exposure to bullying situations or other even more serious scenarios. .
In addition, the algorithmic recommendation of content, a key element of Instagram for the circulation of content, also ignited the alerts of the groups issuing the request, since the biased manipulation of these recommendations could be used to take advantage of the fact that minors are generally highly persuasive, according to the signatories.
For its part, Facebook for the moment defends its proposal, claiming that there are already minors using Instagram with false ages and that other companies have already implemented similar solutions, such as TikTok and its parental controls. In this case, the responsibility for the control of certain aspects of the activity of minors on Instagram, if this proposal materializes, will pass directly to the parents, under a dynamic similar to that of Messenger Kids.
This possible new version of Instagram was only reviewed one project. However, the impact of the announcement reached higher levels like this. There is still time to see what direction this ends up taking.