Child Advocates Argue Instagram for Kids Harmful to Development

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A group of child advocates says that Instagram for Kids could be harmful to kids' development. The group, Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, is calling out Facebook because of its plan to create an Instagram for Kids.

According to the group, this child-centric-app will only disrupt the developmental growth of adolescents. The group of child advocates addressed their letter to the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.

Instagram for Kids

Recently, Facebook announced that they would be creating a child-centric app like Messenger for Kids, but this time for Instagram. This app will be for children ages 13 years old and below. 

The child-centric app is a version of Instagram that has safety features for children. It includes stopping suspicious adults from sending messages to minors. The plan to create Instagram for Kids was first announced on BuzzFeed by Facebook.

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Child advocates are against Instagram for Kids.

The organization, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, argues that instead of not putting the users' security at risk, the application will instead put children at a greater risk. According to the group, "It will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform's manipulative and exploitative features."

In the letter that the child advocates addressed to Zuckerberg that the application might exploit the way teens go through developmental changes.

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The believed damages that Instagram for Kids could cause

The group emphasized that elementary and middle school-aged children develop well through social competencies, abstract thinking, and a sense of self.

The child advocates say that the social media app can damage a child's physical and mental health. Also, Instagram for Kids is believed by the group to increase bullying.

The group explained in their letter, "Instagram, in particular, exploits young people's fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers."

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The response of Facebook

Even though the child advocates group has been petitioning Facebook to stop creating Instagram for Kids, Facebook says they acknowledge this. The social media giant also said that they are hoping to find a middle ground.

A representative of Facebook said in an interview with PEOPLE, "We agree that any experience we develop must prioritize their safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts in child development, child safety, and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it."

Facebook also said that the primary aim of this child-centric app is to ensure the safety of its users who are minors. At the same time, they would like to avoid an existing problem that they have been observing from younger audiences, "We also want to find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps."

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