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Facebook is pausing the development of Instagram Kids for youngsters ages 10-12 after a report from the Wall Street Journal about the negative effect of this social media app. The explosive report showed that over the past three years the app has harmed teenage girls.
One report said that among young teens with suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of British users and six percent of American users traced the issue to the Instagram app.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri repeatedly defended that the platform for children is to draw more kids to the app and is still “the right thing to do.” While critics acknowledged that this was a bad idea, the kids are already online, and they believe that this age-appropriate experience is better for parents.
Mosseri said that these new features would give parents the tool to shape their teen’s experience. A clinical study in the context of beauty explores the relationship between self-presentation and peer comparisons. Through in-depth interviews, the result of the thematic analysis revealed the gap between teenage girls’ self-belief and perceived peer standard of beauty.
Their feelings of insecurity and self-esteem underpinned their efforts in their self-presentation and quest for peer recognition. Their findings from this study revealed the teenage girl’s struggles and provided future interventions to evaluate self on social media.
The issues on negative social comparison already exist on social media. Anxiety exists that could harm the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of minors who are not equipped to handle the complexities of social media.
Facebook claims that using Instagram helps teenagers when they are struggling with issues they are facing. In fact, in other matters such as loneliness and sadness, the app made girls feel better, according to the company.
Some aspects of research, such as teens blaming the app for increased rates of anxiety and depression, were only based on the input of 40 users, which is not representative considering the more than a billion users using the app.
Why Is Facebook Stopping the Instagram for Kids App?
According to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, while they believe Instagram for Kids is the right thing to do, they are pausing the work because they want to use the time to work with parents, experts, and policymakers. They will continue to build opt-in parental supervision tools for teens. The project should not be seen as a bad idea because it will give parents more control and supervision compared to the regular app.
Instagram for Kids won’t have ads and will have age-appropriate content and features. In addition, parents can control the time their kids spend on the app and supervise who can message or follow them.
Is Instagram Singled out?
While the studies show that social media, in general, is fueling anxiety and depression across age groups, the addictive nature of Instagram focuses on ‘best moments’ to promote glamour and create a toxic environment.
However, the impact on body image issues is limited to teenage girls because even adult women suffer from this due to Instagram. For example, the health agency called out the app about the promotion of ‘Apetamin,’ used by women who want to have curvaceous figures but have serious side effects like liver failure. While the company said it took down accounts advertising it, the search function on the app can still be used to find it.
Instagram is undoubtedly a place where everyone wants to maintain an image, and teens who are struggling will have to live up to the ideal photos a lot harder than they already have on social media. But, Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers, and regulators.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNBC: Facebook is ‘pausing’ Instagram for kids. Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg allows screen time for his daughters; by Jade Scipioni
Bloomberg: Instagram Is No Place for Kids; by Editorial Staff
Featured and Top Image by Yuri Samoilov Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Timberland Regional Library’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License