Instagram doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 13 to use its platform, but new plans reveal the potential development of an entire app made for children.
However, advocacy groups and attorneys general in the US have objected to the plans, saying they believe the new app would have negative effects on young children.
Learn exactly what Instagram has in mind for its Instagram for kids app and the potential benefits and drawbacks for young children.
What Is Instagram for Kids?
Executives have begun to prioritize a children’s version of Instagram. An internal employee message identified a youth program as being an H1 priority for the company.
The project would be separate from the main app that millions of people use to post photos and interact with every day.
The intention is to target kids under the age of 13 who are currently prohibited from using Instagram under its terms.
But the plans for the app come with a significant amount of backlash from health experts, advocacy groups, and even 44 attorneys general.
These groups have sent letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg and top executives asking them to put a pause on the app’s development.
While the details haven’t been fully ironed out, the children’s version of Instagram would be similar to how Messenger Kids operates—suitable for children, with accounts managed by parents.
Instagram has increased privacy settings for teenagers, but the children’s version of the app would likely have much stricter privacy and parental controls. It would also likely have a much more curated feed of content to make sure it is child-friendly.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business that the company will also not serve ads on the platform for children.
So now that you know a little bit about Facebook’s plans, let’s go into the pros and cons of the idea…
Pros of Using Instagram for Kids
The harsh backlash for the development of Instagram for kids comes from legitimate concerns. But that’s not to say developing an Instagram app for children is all negative.
Let’s go over some of the positives this type of app could have…
More Control Over What Content Your Kid Sees
The new Instagram app would allow parents more control over how their child interacts and consumes content on the platform—much in the same way other platforms are offering kids apps like YouTube Kids.
Instagram has mentioned artificial intelligence as a way to moderate inappropriate material but hasn’t released any other details. The platform has made recent changes to restrict adults on the main app from messaging teens if they do not follow each other beforehand.
It’s unclear at this time exactly what privacy policies will be put in place to curate the content or how much control parents will have over their children’s accounts. Instagram does have parental controls currently built into the main app.
Developing an app for younger children could remove any need for you to constantly monitor what content your child is consuming. This could give kids access to a visual platform and way to connect with friends, while keeping them away from the adult content and advertising of the main Instagram platform.
No Ads Directed at Children
One of the reasons Instagram has grown to the scale it has is because of advertising. This added income has allowed Instagram to build new features and make its platform more enticing for people who use it.
The only problem is that advertising manipulates children with less decision-making abilities to believe they need the products or services being offered.
Gaming apps have long been scrutinized for their attempts to monetize off the bad decisions made by children.
Instagram for kids is looking to remove the problem altogether by not allowing any ads to be displayed to children.
This is a big step in keeping children safe on social media from outside influences. Not allowing advertisers on Instagram for kids makes the new app much safer to use for children than the original.
Giving Kids a Sense of Empowerment
Anyone who has received positive feedback from a post they made on Instagram knows how reassuring it can feel.
Certain Instagram aficionados have used the platform to gain massive stardom and even launch careers. Leveraging the large audience base is exactly how entrepreneurial-minded people are making income from the platform.
Giving young children the chance to produce content on a child-friendly platform, away from the main app, can give them a chance to explore their creativity without the scrutiny of Instagram’s full audience.
The Cons of Instagram for Kids
Even though children can benefit from an app built specifically for them, there’s a reason why health experts and advocacy groups are fighting for the app to be killed.
Here are a few of the negative effects the app could have…
Causing Self-Image Problems at a Younger Age
The problem with social media, and specifically Instagram, is that people are mostly portraying what they believe others want to see. Feeding the almighty algorithm with their posts and being subject to likes and engagement statistics may result in the same social media envy users of the current app experience.
The more engagement a child gets on their post, the more incentive they have to continue making the same posts or to replicate other popular posts.
This is how children start to compare their lives and self-image to others on the platform.
Children may develop an inaccurate view of who they are or who they are supposed to be on social media. If they believe they aren’t as good as someone else, they may start to look at themselves as inferior or incapable.
By creating an earlier entry point to the Instagram experience, an Instagram for kids may expose children to the pressures and anxieties of social media much earlier than we already see.
A survey done by Pew in 2018 found that 59% of teens had reported being bullied online. Although Instagram has developed different features to try and prevent bullying, it hasn’t been able to eradicate it from the platform.
This brings questions about how positive an experience would be for an Instagram aimed at children under the age of 13.
Content on a new app will be moderated by artificial intelligence, but no further details have been given on exactly how Instagram plans on keeping the platform child-friendly.
While kids will able to report any instances of bullying or inappropriate behavior through the app, the effects of cyberbullying on a young child could be devasting to their mental health and have long-term consequences on social interaction.
Instagram for Kids Raises Doubts for Parents
If the Instagram for kids app gets developed, the team will have their hands full developing features to keep children safe.
The large backlash to the news of the development leaves its future uncertain.
Author: Raul Mercado
Source: Raul Mercado.” Is an Instagram for Kids a Good or Bad Idea? The Pros and Cons”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/instagram-for-kids-pros-and-cons/
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