Facebook recently announced its plan to release a kid’s version of its popular app Instagram. It wants to expand its presence among children ages 13 and below. But a global alliance of 35 consumer and children’s groups has called on the social network to stop any plans to release Instagram for Kids.
The New York Times reports the coalition will include the Parents Television and Media Council and the Consumer Federation of America.
The group says the project would fail to monitor children active in the main app, as they move to the kids version.
“Children between the ages of 10 and 12 who have existing Instagram accounts are unlikely to migrate to a “babyish” version of the platform after they have experienced the real thing. The true audience for a kids’ version of Instagram will be much younger children who do not currently have accounts on the platform,” writes the coalition.
The letter summarizes potential problems brought by a dedicated Instagram for Kids app.
“A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to adolescents. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers. The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing,” adds the coalition.
Facebook has yet to announce if it will proceed with a launch for Instagram for Kids. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri recently noted they are discussing an option to cater to the younger generation. And they are devising ways to stop those children from cheating the system and creating accounts through the main app.
Young people still use Instagram, even if it has age restrictions. Research shows tens of thousands of children not only actively use the app, but they also expose their personal information to use expanded tools in the app.
Researcher David Stier found how some kids switch personal IG profiles to business to access the analytics tools. When they do this, they share their contact and post information to the public. And Instagram wants to stop this using a dedicated kids app.
“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 Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features,” comments the group on Facebook’s data-gathering business.
“Facebook’s long track record of exploiting young people and putting them at risk makes the company particularly unsuitable as the custodian of a photo sharing and social messaging site for children. Leaked documents have revealed that Facebook boasted to advertisers that it could target teens at the exact moment they were feeling bad about themselves, including when they have negative thoughts about their bodies. Another report from Reveal showed that Facebook employees referred to children who racked up thousands of dollars in credit card charges through in-game purchases as “whales,” a term casinos use to classify incredibly lucrative high rollers,” adds the coalition.