Facebook got a major eye roll when on March 17, it shared a blog post announcing an Instagram Kids app. Users across the globe criticized Facebook for such an insensitive decision. However, much in vain as Facebook was adamant in plowing ahead with its plans.
Fast forward to 7 months later, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram delivered yet another significant statement announcing that it is pausing the Instagram Kids app.
I know what you are thinking.
Has Facebook heeded our calls? Or is this a part of another publicity statement? Goes without saying, Facebook has always put its profits before the privacy and security of users. All the young user’s profiles will possibly be used to keep Facebook’s ad business going. Then what could be the reason behind such a crucial step? Read on to get answers to all your doubts.
Why Has Facebook Decided To Put Instagram Kids On Ice?
The fact that Facebook initiated its statement with “We believe building Instagram Kids is the right thing to do” clearly indicates that Facebook hasn’t accepted yet that there is any flaw in this app. It has taken the decision to merely pause this project because of the backlash it is facing from lawmakers, media, and child development experts. Let us learn about this backlash deeply to understand this matter in depth.
The Backlash And Reason Behind It
It all started when a report from Wall Street Journal questioned the effects of Facebook and Instagram on the tender minds of teens and tweens. Particularly the teenage girls are the ones who are most affected by Instagram’s well-documented harms. This journal took into account the data of Facebook users of the last three years. It found out how adversely Facebook is affecting its younger user base.
Some of the most shocking facts that come to light are:-
- Amongst all the teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 6 percent of American users and 13 percent of British users claimed that it is because of Instagram.
- More than 17 percent of teen girls claimed that Instagram further elevates their eating disorders.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee has come forward with some crucial internal research documents. The whistleblower presented it to federal authorities to prove the point that it’s not like Facebook is unaware of this situation. Facebook is already familiar with the fact that it is leading its young users to mental health issues, body image problems, eating disorders, and even suicidal thoughts. However, it elevates profits over safety and that is why it refuses to change its policy. All of this led to a major backlash from critics around the world. As a result, Facebook is left with no option but to hold off its Instagram Kids project.
But, the question is, Is Instagram Kids just paused or abandoned by Facebook?
Is Instagram Kids Completely Abandoned?
Using the word pause rather than abandoning in its blog post clearly indicates one thing. Facebook still plans to expose young users to Instagram. They strengthen their point by saying that critics will use this opportunity to point out fingers on this project. But, in reality, kids are already online. And, further explains how their Instagram Kids version will provide parental controls, ad-free experience, age-appropriate features, and content to make their time worthwhile.
However, Fairplay executive director Josh Golin argues that the reason behind word pause is not postponing this project. They claim that Facebook knows this project will bring them no good and therefore they may have dropped this project. They just want to save their face and hope that people will eventually forget about Instagram Kids.
All in all, Instagram Kids is not the only problem that lies in kids’ digital world.
Social Media Causes Ripples of Concerns
The only thing with which I agree in Adam Mosseri’s statement is “ Kids are already online.” They are already laying their hands on toxic social media apps like Tiktok or Snapchat. Social media apps are playing with children’s mental as well as physical well-being. However, throwing kids’ versions in the face of these concerns may be popular but not at all an appropriate response. It’s not like Instagram is the torchbearer of kids’ versions. Youtube, Tiktok, Messenger, everyone is doing it. They claim that by taking this step they are protecting children in the digital world. In reality, it takes only a fake birthdate to bypass these so-called limitations.
For sure, designing a child-friendly version of any toxic solution is not the ultimate solution for a child’s safety. Then, what can help your kids?
The Ultimate Solution
Apps like Instagram Kids can only restrict the content to a level. Even if their motives are pure( which I seriously doubt), they themselves agree that no algorithm is perfect. There isn’t any surety that your kid won’t find any appropriate content there or not become addicted to this app. The only way to keep your kids safe is by encouraging them to spend less time online, especially on social media. The Bit Guardian Parental Control app does a pretty good job in setting healthy time limits to help your children stick to healthy schedules. It can keep any app that is eroding their self-esteem, mental wellbeing as well as peace of mind at bay. Install it now so that any toxic app does not shake the very foundation of your children’s mature device usage.