Instagram Kids: Just another cover up?
Nov 25, 2021
Meta’s new app, Instagram Kids, is making headlines as they unveiled their novel social media app for kids. The project was launched after new research came to light about Instagram’s detrimental effects on children, particularly younger girls. However, securing users for the new app will be no easy task, especially with recent controversy.
Meta’s press tour harped on the safety of the new app, reiterating that it would be more appropriate for children due to the feature of selective filtering, and that it would allow for direct adult supervision. Seeing as most kids are already online, their message is that there’s no harm in altering Instagram to increase online safety and protection for children.
This rationale has actually been upheld by Youtube, Tiktok, and Messenger, who all offer a ‘Kids’ version of their platform. However, none have been very successful, on account of the actual kids not wanting to be on these platforms, who largely view them as “uncool” and “immature.” This is understandable, and looking into how children tend to act upon these conceptions, parents worry Instagram Kids might fuel falsification of ages, and might encourage even more kids to join the apps designed for older users.
Recent news regarding Meta’s internal research into making the novel app as addictive as possible has incited far-reaching discussions on regulation and filtering. Tech companies often incorporate these features to boost their profits, even if it comes at the cost of disturbing effects on body image and the mental wellbeing of its users.
Amidst intense backlash from parents and social activists alike, Meta has temporarily paused this project, citing the need for further consultations and research. “This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post. Whether or not this will ultimately culminate in the revival of Instagram Kids, the controversy surrounding this idea is certain to hinder any further development of this app.