Social media can be very alluring to kids, but few will argue that it’s a healthy environment for them. This led several state attorneys general in the U.S. to press Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to not launch Instagram Kids. It’s unknown at the time of writing whether he was successfully persuaded.
Attorneys General Send Letter to Zuckerberg
This problem is as old as social media itself. When my son was a pre-teen, he would create secret accounts on Myspace and lie about his age. I’d find out and delete the account. He’d find a way to do it again.
Kids have to lie about their ages, as no one under the age of 13 is allowed to have their own accounts, thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Many kids even lie about their age with their parents’ consent.
In March, Zuckerberg’s plans came to light. The plans call for a social network just for kids. Instagram Kids will be aimed at the 13-and-under crowd.
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is trying to put a stop to Instagram Kids. The group wrote of safety concerns and potential harm brought by such a plan in its letter to Zuckerberg.
The 44 attorneys general suggested that social media can be harmful to kids. It added that Facebook has a history of not protecting children, no matter the platform. As an example, after Facebook Messenger Kids was launched, a glitch allowed kids to join group chats with strangers.
“It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account. In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform,” wrote the attorneys general.
The NAAG spelled out some of the reasons that led them to be against Instagram Kids. These included research that shows social media to be harmful to kids, cyberbullying concerns, predators using the platform, children not being protected in the past, and children not being able to navigate all the dangers they may come across.
Could It Get Worse?
The reports cited by the NAAG included a 200 percent increase of Instagram being used to target and abuse children. This increase was over a period of just six months. Last year, between Instagram and Facebook, 20 million child sexual abuse images were reported. You have to assume many weren’t even reported.
The other abusive behavior that victimizes children on social media is cyberbullying. Forty-two percent of young Instagram users reported being the victims of cyberbullying. This sometimes leads to kids taking their own lives.
This leads to the question of how much worse it could get with a dedicated platform just for kids. Hopefully, the attorneys general will be able to convince Zuckerberg to abandon plans for Instagram Kids.
Read on to learn off other good ways to keep children safe online.