Instagram has put on hold the application it is creating for kids, following resistance from advocacy groups and U.S. lawmakers. The social media company will now focus on building opt-in parental supervision tools for teenagers.
Facebook was working on this application with an aim to cater to teenagers under 13 years of age. The app would require parental permission to join, and provide ad-free, age-appropriate content. Parents would also have the ability to oversee who can message them, supervise the time their children spend on the app, who can follow them and who they can follow.
However, soon after the announcement, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) wrote a letter to Facebook Chief Mark Zuckerberg, urging him not to create the app. It argued that Instagram exploits youngsters’ fear of missing out (FOMO) as they constantly check their devices seeking external approval. It further said that young children are vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features.
Also read: Why Instagram for kids is a bad idea?
The work on Parental Supervision Tools
In its blog post announcing the move, Instagram said it will continue to build op-in parental supervision tools for teens. It said that kids are already online and misrepresenting their age to download applications meant for people over 13 years.
“We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them-where parents can supervise and control their experience- than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID.”
Despite the pause, the company will work to allow parents to oversee their children’s accounts. It will exapnd these tools to teen accounts (age 13 and over) on Instagram in order to make sure it get it right.
A recent Wall Street Journal report suggested that Instagram had a harmful effect on teenagers, especially girls. It also said that Facebook made minimal efforts to address the issue.
Must Abandon the Project
Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers said that “Facebook has completely forfeited the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting young people online. and it must completely abandon this project.”