Everyone knows social media is bad for kids — especially Instagram. Here's why this mum is extra-worried about Facebook's newest product for kids...
Should we let our kids — under the very impressionable age of 13 — use Instagram? Heck no. And we’re happy that 44 US attorney-generals agree. In a letter made public on Monday, they pleaded with Facebook to drop the idea of creating Instagram for kids.
The letter reads: “Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account. Further, Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its platforms. The attorney-generals have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest.”
As parents, it’s the warm hug we really need right now — Covid-19 and all — knowing that someone’s got our back when it comes to the detrimental nature of social media for kids.
What we know about Instagram for Kids
In March, much to the dismay of parents worldwide, Facebook announced that it was planning to build a kid-friendly version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. Currently, kids under 13 aren’t supposed to use the photo-sharing app, but, as we parents know, kids are pretty crafty when it comes to doing what they want.
Here’s the thing: social media was never meant for kids. Facebook was made by college kids to network with other college kids. Instagram was inspired by its founder’s love of fine whiskeys and bourbon. And YouTube is rife with violent and sexually suggestive videos that aren’t exactly kid-friendly.
Why kids don’t need to be on social media
Whether you’ve watched The Social Dilemma or not, you’re bound to have heard about why social media is so horrible for kids. It affects their mental health, and has even been known to be the cause of suicide. In the aforementioned letter, the attorneys look back at a 2017 study that found 42% of Instagram’s youngest users had been cyberbullied at least once.
Why Instagram is worse
The fact that Instagram is photo-based could greatly affect kids’ self-esteem, possibly more than a regular messaging app. Want to know how bad? A recent — and very thought provoking — campaign by Dove, the ‘reverse selfie’ ad, is proof of how retouching apps and the pressure to post the ‘perfect selfie’ affects teens confidence. Check it out for yourself here:
Here’s the thing: 80% of teenage girls are already using filters and editing apps to change the way they look. Now imagine your tween — heck, your 10 year-old — second guessing his or her looks. It’s scary as hell, and no kid should ever have to feel this way.
Instagram is a terrible idea and should stay that way. Kids under 13 have no idea about the challenges and complexities of social media. And yet, Facebook is still going for it. They want kids to have their own dedicated space so they can use social media without having to lie to their parents. They claim that they’re prioritising safety and privacy, and consulting with experts in child development.
We call bull and prefer to keep our kids off social media for as long as we possibly can. When we feel like our kids are old enough to understand it all, including all the dangers and risks that come with it, maybe then we’ll allow them on Instagram or social media. But for now, we’re giving Instagram for kids a hard pass, and it’s going to stay that way for a very, very long time.
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