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Bearing the brunt of society: How Instagram for kids will only make things worse for the social media company

Social media companies like Instagram are introducing their version for kids, which is now taking the brunt of legal issues.

Participating in different social media events is a common occurrence that has been shown to support children and adolescents by improving communication, social connection, and even technological skills, according to research. Facebook and MySpace, for example, provide many ways to interact with peers, classmates, and people who share common interests daily. The number of youngsters and teenagers using such pages has risen sharply in the last five years. According to a survey, at least 22 percent of teens log on to their preferred social networking webpage more than a few times a day, and more than half of the youth log on at least once a day (1).

As a result, the Internet and mobile phones play a significant role in this generation’s social and emotional growth. Children and adolescents are at risk as they navigate and experiment with social media because of their reduced capacity for self-regulation and peer pressure vulnerability. According to recent studies, bullying, clique-forming, and are common online examples of offline activities have resulted in issues such as cyberbullying and privacy concerns. Internet addiction and sleep deprivation are two other issues that need to be addressed. Today, many parents are incredibly adept at using technology and are confident in their children’s and adolescents’ usage of programs and online venues.

However, some parents may find it uneasy about connecting with their digitally savvy children online for various reasons. (2) Such parents may be unaware of the modern ways of socialization that are so important in their children’s lives. They frequently lack the technological skills or time required to keep up with their children in the rapidly evolving Internet environment. Furthermore, these parents often lack a fundamental understanding that their children’s online lives are extensions of their offline lives. Since it has affected them, the majority of the youth are moving from television to social media. Social networking has an effect on young people’s lives and aids in the creation of global networks. It is simple to form relationships with someone on social media by sharing one’s likes and dislikes, which can be done quickly. (3) They can communicate with others by messaging, sharing pictures and videos with their mates, and information passed on quickly and at a lower cost. Social media provides a forum for debating some of today’s most pressing issues. They use social media to communicate with their peers and express their opinions and feelings.

As the youth grow older, they become perplexed as to what they should do, and they receive guidelines for dealing with issues in their lives. Assist students in sharing details about upcoming assignments. Purchasing tickets for a movie, a hotel, and flight and train tickets for domestic and international travel can be done immediately. As the youth become more politically conscious, social media has encouraged political reform.

Shifting towards the younger minds

Children were not intended to use social media. Facebook was created with college students in mind, its founder’s love of whiskey inspired Instagram, and YouTube began as a video dating platform. On the other hand, teens are involved on social media, and many children under the age of 13 have already developed online social lives. They collaborate on Minecraft worlds, FaceTime with friends, and use Facebook Messenger Kids to send texts and emojis. They do, however, use software and surf an Internet that was not created with them in mind. Parents must consider what social media is suitable for their family before allowing their children to fall in love with TikTok, fall into YouTube holes, or launch their own Instagram accounts (4).

Companies are constantly developing applications for the Internet’s youngest users, who are old enough to type words on a smartphone or device but too young for current social media software, adding to the problem. YouTube Kids and Facebook Messenger Kids are already available. Facebook is currently developing an Instagram edition for children under the age of 13. Federal regulations in the United States restrict the monitoring and targeting of individuals under the age of 13, which marketers have often circumvented using shaky age verification. Children can borrow an adult’s account, have their parents create one for them, or lie about their age and create their own to gain access to popular websites and apps (5).

Since young people are potentially long-term consumers and tastemakers who help platforms stay active in pop culture, social media firms compete intensely for their attention. Advertisers often want to invest more in channels with a younger audience. According to a pending class-action lawsuit, Facebook knew for years that it provided marketers with inflated user counts in the 18-to-34-year-old demographic in some cases exceeding the natural populations of those areas partly due to users lying about their ages.

Instagram for kids

According to the chief parenting officer at online-monitoring company Bark, parents’ biggest fear about enabling young children to use social media is exposure to sexual content and predators. Many parents and children have placed screen time issues on the back burner during the pandemic, as they have more urgent concerns and fewer opportunities for in-person socialization. All online experiences aren’t created equal. While some might be okay with text-based communication, anything like Instagram will present a different set of challenges. Self-esteem and mental health can be affected more by a photo-based social experience than by one-on-one messages (6).

Children are one of the following large untapped online markets, and major tech firms may be interested in reaching out to those under 13. This necessitates creating a product that parents approve of so that they aren’t concerned about predators or radicalization. “We named it cradle to cane at Disney. You’ve built a lifetime bond if you can get a kid excited about the Disney brand excited about princesses at age 3, 4, and 5 and keep that engagement,” said KC Estenson, a former Disney executive and current CEO of GoNoodle. This app allows videos, music, and games for young kids. Legislators are now under increasing pressure to control how Big Tech firms monitor and treat younger users. Companies like Facebook may be attempting to avoid any new legislation that would require them to be even stricter about things like data retention by developing applications that appear to be safer on their own.

BuzzFeed News announced last week that Facebook was developing a children’s version of Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app it purchased in 2012. The new app, which was revealed internally by the company, will be tailored to users aged 12 and under. (7) Officially, Instagram is only for users aged 13 and over, although there is no age restriction, and many younger children have their accounts with their parent’s permission. The Instagram app for kids does not yet have a release date. The company said that kids wanted to keep up with their friends, so it was working on additional social media applications that were suitable for kids, supervised by parents.

There aren’t many specifics of what an Instagram for kids will look like or how it would vary or be safer than the adult version. However, a recent blog post from the organization contains some hints. Last week, Instagram detailed some of the steps it was taking to make its crucial app safer for teenagers, including artificial intelligence, to improve age checks’ accuracy and make them more difficult to fake. Adults cannot send messages to users who have indicated that they are under 18 unless the younger person has already followed them. When it senses an adult behaving suspiciously, such as by mass messaging younger people, the organization also introduces safety alerts for teens.

Instagram has been experimenting with reducing the number of likes on posts. Limiting that kind of feedback might be crucial in an Instagram app for kids under the age of 13, who will want to escape the FOMO and pressure to look good that are prevalent on the main app. We can also look at Facebook Messenger Kids, which is currently available for children. The app, which was released in 2017 to a barrage of criticism, had some early problems that the company fixed and is now widely used without much notice. It is operated by a parent’s account and does not require children to sign up for Facebook (8).

Parents may find well-designed children’s apps that prioritize privacy and have stringent protections to protect young users from harassers and predators appealing, but the target users may not. Many children may prefer the less limited adult versions and will seek out ways to obtain them. YouTube Kids, for example, is the company’s effort to build a safer environment away from the complex, uncontrolled world of daily YouTube. Still, children of all ages continue to flock to the leading site. And TikTok, which in the United States has no choice for users under the age of 13, is hugely popular among young users and developers.

Facebook Inc. claims it will create a safer social-media haven for users under the age of 13 by creating an Instagram for kids version. However, the business faces opposition from politicians who want the tech giant to stay away from youth. Many children under the age of 13 already use the daily Instagram app. This week’s topic was brought to light by a letter sent by Democratic lawmakers to Facebook, which poses new concerns about the company’s newly revealed plans for an Instagram-branded product aimed at children under 13. Users under the age of thirteen are not permitted to use any of the company’s platforms.