Instagram for Kids? Experts Call Delayed Plans a Smart Move

Oct 7, 2021 – How young is she on Instagram? Ever since news came out that Instagram was developing a platform for kids, the idea has been the subject of much debate.

Instagram Kids is designed for kids ages 10 to 12 and will include parental controls, no ads, and other child safety features, according to Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram.

Some parents said the ability to monitor their children’s social media activity would be welcome.

But parents, experts and other lawmakers said that even with additional controls, Instagram is not a place for children.

Those concerned about Instagram Kids have got at least a temporary reprieve. Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, announced last week that it is now delaying its plans for its new child-friendly Instagram service.

“While we stick to our decision to develop this experiment, we have decided to take a pause to give us time to work with parents, experts, policy makers, and regulators, listen to their concerns, and demonstrate the value and importance of this project for our younger online teens today,” Mosseri. She said In a statement on Twitter.

The delay comes next TheThe Wall Street Journal An investigative report was published that showed research conducted by Facebook revealed that teens’ mental health struggles, including body image issues and suicidal thoughts, are linked to the time they spend on Instagram.

The results show that young girls are particularly affected.

A now-disclosed presentation slide for a Facebook study revealed that 13% of British teens and 6% of American teens traced their suicidal thoughts to their time on Instagram.

Facebook rejected file The Wall Street JournalDepicting their research, saying that the report lacked the main context surrounding their findings.

Underage social media users

While a number of social media platforms have age restrictions, kids can easily lie about their age, as no real proof is required to open an account.

For example, to open an Instagram or Facebook account, you must be at least 13 years old.

But 45% of 9 to 12-year-olds use Facebook daily, and 40% of kids in the same age group use Instagram, according to a report from Thorn, an anti-trafficking organization that builds technologies to fight children. sexual violence.

While some parents have already taken a hard line somehow on Instagram Kids, others are still weighing the pros and cons.

Christina Wilds, author of Dear little black girl, A media and talent relations specialist, she documents her life on Instagram, where she has more than 10,000 followers. Wilds lives in New York City with her husband, artist Mac Wilds, and their young daughter, Tristin.

Wilds, 32, says that while she sees the positive and negative aspects of Instagram Kids, knowing her child can’t access certain content will make her feel better as a parent.

“If a 12-year-old has to go to Instagram now, on the platform as it is, there’s nothing stopping him from seeing inappropriate content thrown up every day,” she says.

“If someone drops a nude photo on Instagram and it goes viral, there’s no parental control, and there’s no way for me to stop my child from seeing what’s popular during that time,” Wilds says.

Is the children’s platform the answer?

While there are serious concerns about children’s online safety, some say creating social media platforms for kids, such as Instagram Kids, shouldn’t be seen as the only way to protect the little ones.

“The Instagram myth is inevitably just a myth. Our kids don’t have to be on social media. For that matter, we also don’t. In fact, Facebook doesn’t need to keep growing. We can make political decisions to stop it,” Kristen Empa, Opinion columnist and editor at Washington PostWritten in a recent article.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all parents will be able to closely monitor their children’s Instagram account, especially parents and families in which both parents work or have multiple jobs, according to Jeff Hancock, Ph.D., professor of communications at Stanford University and founding director. For the Stanford Social Media Lab.

“For some families, this will work really well; families who have the time and the caring resources to be able to continue to monitor their children and be active in that,” he says.

But not all families have it. A system that relies on parental attention to monitor it would be problematic.”

Negative effects on mental health can also be a major problem, according to Jeremy Tyler, PsyD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry and director of psychotherapy in the outpatient psychiatry clinic at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“We already know that there are a lot of kids who are a little bit older than them, who go into the darker places of these platforms and have some negative effects from them,” he says.

“I think it’s something we shouldn’t take lightly.”

Separating the real from the fake

Tyler says one of the main reasons children’s Instagram might be a problem is that children under 13 are still in a developing stage of life, and are often very impressionable.

This can be particularly concerning when it comes to filtered or edited photos.

Apps like Perfect Me and Body Tune give you the option to slim and reshape your body in your photos. You can enhance certain features, smoothen and touch up your skin, among other tweaks.

But unlike adults, kids often have a harder time telling the difference between what’s real and what’s fake, Tyler says.

“People get a very different, filtered look of themselves, which creates a perception for younger children that this is normal,” he says.

“They see something that gets 10,000 likes and tons of comments with a thumbs up and positive reinforcement — socially, they learn through that observation and modeling. Cognitively, they can’t really decipher that it’s not necessarily real life,” he says.

Brie Linehan, author and content creator, echoes Tyler’s point.

“As a teenager, you learn and develop your beliefs, morals, personality traits, values, and what you do or don’t like — you are practically an information-sucking sponge. So when you bring social media into the mix, this can be challenging,” says Linehan, 25 years old.

Instagram users aren’t just comparing public figures, says actress and creator Asia Jackson.

“You don’t just follow celebrities, but the people you know,” she says. “And no one wants to spread the negatives in their life, they only want to spread the positives.”

“I think a lot of these mental health issues stem from the platform where it looks like people’s lives are perfectly organized.”

keep it real

Linehan, author of the fantasy novel pemprem: the hidden alcove, She says she has experienced negative body image for a large part of her life.

She remembers a time last year when her partner, Dylan, took pictures of her poolside.

“I got a terrible feeling when I look back at the photos I wasn’t posing or wasn’t ready to take. I usually delete the in-between and soothing photos because I was so hard on myself,” she says.

But this time, in particular, I didn’t. I knew I didn’t want to be so hard on myself anymore.”

She’s challenged herself to upload these relaxed, coverless photos every week, in a series she calls “Real Me Mondays.”

“At first, it was just for me; to get over my fear of not being good enough, my fear of being judged by others. It was terrifying. But I noticed over time that it was really encouraging and helping others as well,” Linehan says.

Linehan, who has over 463,000 followers on Instagram, says that after posting her Real Me Monday series last year, she’s completely comfortable with her skin.

“I greatly appreciate what my body does for me than the way it looks now, and I hope to encourage others to feel the same way in their own skin too,” she says.

Jackson also uses her social media platforms – she has over 82,000 followers on Instagram and 440,000 followers on YouTube – to raise awareness of the issues she cares about, including mental health.

Last year, Jackson, 27, decided to share with her followers that she suffers from depression and is being treated with antidepressants.

“I thought if I just spoke authentically about my own experience, it might resonate with a lot of people,” she says.

“A lot of people were saying they were glad they came across this video because these are conversations they had at home with their parents, with their families or even with their friends.”

She says this is one of the many positive aspects of social media.

Jackson, who is black and Filipino, created the hashtag #MagandangMorenx, which means “beautiful brown girl,” to challenge colors in Filipino communities.

“I got an email from someone after the hashtag went viral, and they told me that seeing people take pride in their skin color in this hashtag changed their mind about getting a skin whitening treatment,” says Jackson.

“Just something they saw online changed their mind about a serious cosmetic procedure.”

Wilds says one of her Instagram platform’s main goals is to inspire other moms to be alike and accept themselves without the pressures of social media.

“I think a lot of times we see the perfect solution, the perfect pregnancy, and that’s not everyone’s reality,” she says.

“I want to set realistic expectations of what motherhood really looks like — without the nanny, without liposuction, or postpartum plastic surgery.”

When she sees other moms admiring her postpartum body in the comments section, she cheers them up on her right back.

“Whenever I go hiking or running, I post it in my story and tag other moms I know going through the same things I’m going through as a way to encourage them, and vice versa.”

Safety Strategies

Much stronger safety measures are needed if we are to ensure a healthy social media environment for children, according to Hancock.

“I’d like to see that before you use some of these techniques, especially if you’re young, you have to take a course — not just a webinar,” he says.

“You must have taken a course at your school, for example, and have a certain degree.

And until you do, you are not allowed to use this technology.”

Balancing the positive aspects of Instagram, such as self-expression and creativity, and the negative aspects, such as social comparison and heightened concerns about a person’s appearance and body, can be difficult, as Instagram relies largely on images, he says.

“Would it be something where we would never allow young people to have technologies like this? I don’t know. There are a lot of reasons it could be useful for people, but it’s not clear to me that we need something for this age group.”

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