A social media experience designed for under 13s has been paused after backlash from parents and experts. But, will work on Instagram Kids resume?
Facebook is halting work on its latest project, Instagram Kids, in order to address fears and concerns around young people’s mental health. This comes after a damning report from the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that Facebook was fully aware of the negative impact Instagram has on girls’ body image. Rival app, TikTok recently added new features promoting mental health support as a result of the report.
Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri said that they are taking time “to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns.” He went on to say that this is not an admission that Instagram Kids is a bad idea. They “believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”
Facebook has defended the idea of the new app, explaining that it is aimed at “tweens” between the ages of 10-12, and not children. Instagram currently requires users to be over the age of 13, however many users lie about their age. Mosseri emphasised the point that, in reality, kids are already online.
Speaking of the WSJ investigation in a blog post, Facebook’s head of research, Pratiti Raychoudhury stated that the findings were “simply not accurate.” Raychoudhury said that body image was the only issue out of 12 that teenage girls said they felt worse about because of Instagram. The rebuttal went on to state that relating to other issues such as sadness, loneliness, and anxiety, “teenage girls who said they experienced these challenges were more likely to say that Instagram made these issues better v worse.”
Opposition to the “tween” focussed app has been ongoing for plenty of time. In May, attorney generals representing 44 US states wrote to Facebook to pressure the company to ditch their plans.
But, this pausing of work on Instagram Kids doesn’t necessarily equate to an abandonment of the project. Whether Facebook does listen to advice and concerns to inform its future plans remains to be seen.