Instagram has recently decided to pause their project known as Instagram Kids after much scrutiny from the public. The social media company wants to make a safe place for children under 13 years old to access age appropriate content.
Many members of the public have come out with their concerns of apps and social media sites like Instagram as being harmful for children. Facebook, who owns instagram, has decided to come out with controls on their sites aimed at stopping harmful content from reaching youth and encouraging breaks from the sites.
Although the app has been met with severe scrutiny, they plan on eventually releasing Instagram Kids in the future as of now. They have recently released statements providing reasons why the site is beneficial for children, and in fact not harmful.
“Critics of Instagram Kids will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case,” Instagram said. “The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”
Instagram has said that the pause will allow them to work with parents, politicians and other members of the community in order to demonstrate the program’s value.
“Researchers have proposed a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression,” defined as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Other concerns by the American Academy of Pediatrics include: influence from ads, privacy concerns and bullying. Despite these concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics has also stated some benefits, like socialization and learning opportunities.
Instagram plans to combat many of these negative concerns. The site will not contain ads and instagram also hopes the optional parental controls will allow parents to keep better track of their children’s actions and allow parents to make sure the content is not harmful to their mental and physical health.
“Our intention is not for this version to be the same as Instagram today. It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12),” Instagram said. “It will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads and it will have age-appropriate content and features. Parents can supervise the time their children spend on the app and oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow. The list goes on.”
The main message Instagram has been attempting to get across to critics is that children are already online, and will continue to be at younger and younger ages as technology advances. Instagram believes recognizing this and creating sites for those youth specifically will combat many of the things they are currently being criticized for.
“We wanted to provide an update on our work to build an Instagram experience for people under the age of 13, often referred to as ‘Instagram Kids.’ We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older.” Instagram said.