Mark Zuckerberg wants to launch an Instagram for kids – yes, really
We live in a world where increasingly, more and more of children's time is spent in front of a screen.
This is, of course, time that is then not being spent playing, being outside, doing sports, exploring, reading, or enjoying time with family and friends – IRL.
This is, of course, a worrying development, and something experts are already warning will greatly impact children's health and mental health not just right now, but all the way up until adulthood.
However, it seems not everyone is equally concerned about limiting the amount of time children of today are spending looking at a screen.
Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg quietly starting working away on his latest business venture – “Instagram for kids.”
Yep, you read that right. Instagram. For kids. Because, you know, Mark clearly wants to hook them when they're young.
Although the plans for the app was announced way back in March, not many have heard of Instagram for kids yet. Zuckerberg himself confirmed the plan during a March 25 congressional hearing, and the same month, a Facebook spokesperson told USA Today that the app was “in its very early stages” and would hopefully “help kids keep up with their friends, discover new hobbies and interests, and more.”
Luckily, the news is finally getting the attention it needs to get in the US, and earlier this week, 44 attorneys general penned a letter to Zuckerberg, urging Facebook to halt its plans for Instagram Kids. The letter notes the many, many psychological and safety-related reasons it would be harmful to launch a version of the app for children under the age of 13.
According to experts, social media — in particular, Instagram — can have adverse effects on children and teenagers’ mental health, body image, self-esteem, and sleep schedule. Instagram breeds an obsession with “likes,” popularity, and missing out on events that a user may or may not have been invited to. What's even more worrying is that studies have shown that young people who spend more time on apps are more likely to have depression and anxiety. A 2017 study from the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health showed that, compared to Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube, Instagram has the largest mental health impact.
Zuckerberg, as the businessman he is, seems adamant about doing it anyway, and explained in the hearing how an Instagram designed especially for kids could help them stay connected to their peers, and "learn about different content online.”
Many healthcare- and children's health professionals have spoken out against the idea, urging Zuckerberg to rethink his plans.