An "Instagram for Kids" is in the making
Facebook, Instagram's parent company, have taken it upon themselves to begin development for a children's version of the app, we find out from Buzzfeed News. It is widely known the regular Instagram app is hardly an ideal environment for young children. The minimum age to create an account is 13 years old, but kids are shrewd when it comes to figuring out how to sidestep this restriction, exposing themselves to possible dangers.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, spoke out about the difficulty of verifying users' age, as "most people don't get identification documents until they are in their mid-to-late teens." Mosseri will be overseeing the development of the new app dedicated to providing a kid-friendly Instagram experience, which is still in its infancy stage, along with Pavni Diwanji (previously in charge of Google's YouTube Kids and other kid-focused projects).
It isn't difficult to imagine the perils and pitfalls pre-teens could encounter while using the regular Instagram app, and mingling with all sorts of strangers. Because the app caters to teenagers and adults, its restrictions are minimal to accommodate to that age group. The fact that it allows nudity (albeit for artistic or body-positive purposes), and other explicit content, is the least of it.
There, children are vulnerable and exposed to both predators who lurk on the platform, and other negative influences such as unrealistic body standards, shady chat groups with 18+ content, as well as abuse and bullying. Neither is the merciless bombardment from advertisers and product-pushing influencers appropriate for the many children on Instagram, whose minds are too easily influenced and too young to think critically and make conscious decisions.
Researcher Priya Kumar has spoken up to make the case that a kid-friendly Instagram in no way guarantees that children won't find themselves on the main app sooner or later. Moreover, it will only serve to reel them in and get them hooked onto social media at an earlier age than ever, as well as tread the moral fence of monetizing their interactions on the platform to boot.
Buzzfeed adds that after Facebook developed Messenger Kids in 2017 (boasting strict safety measures and parental controls), in 2019, a bug was discovered in the app which allowed children to join chats with complete strangers.
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