Earlier this year Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of social media giant Facebook, announced plans to develop a version of Instagram for kids under the age of 13. This said version was also going to allow parents transparency and control over the kids’ accounts.
The move has concerned several child advocates who claim that social media has played a major role in “exploiting people’s behaviour”. They have urged the social networking company to halt the release of this new version.
What Is New In This Version Of Instagram?
It is true that social media has now started to play a major role in people’s life. For a very long time, social networking websites have made it compulsory to declare one’s age and required the users to be at least 13 years old to register an account.
However, this mandate was not strictly adhered to and one could (and still can) easily lie about their age and make an account. Several underage children can similarly be found having Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts, among several social networking apps.
Facebook spokeswoman Stephanie Otway mentioned in an interview that “The reality is that kids are online. They want to connect with their family and friends, have fun and learn, and we want to help them do that in a way that is safe and age-appropriate.”
Sometime earlier, Instagram had tested privacy changes that used artificial intelligence to identify supposed underage users and blocked adults from contacting young, unknown users.
They also claimed to have blocked children from making accounts (but we all know how easy it is today to make a social media account).
The new version of Instagram (which is still in the works) is said to have all these components and will apparently allow parents to monitor these accounts.
According to Stephanie Otway, Facebook was also working with child development and mental health experts who helped them prioritize safety and privacy.
Is It A Good Idea?
Child advocates across the world are stern on their stance that a version specifically made for kids is a very bad idea.
At a time when one is essentially glued to their smartphones and social media apps for the better part of the day, they say that kids must focus on more productive activities than engaging via social media.
As kids, one must have essentially encountered essay topics like “Is social media a boon or a bane?” and “How is excessive social media affecting lifestyle?”
Social media has played a major role in exploiting people’s behaviour online and otherwise and has also seen to be the cause of several mental health problems.
Organizations like Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood, Electronic Privacy Information Center and nearly 100 other groups and individuals from across the world have made their plea in a letter to Zuckerberg.
It mentioned that “The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and well-being.”
Also Read: Cambridge Analytica And Now BJP, Why Has Facebook Become Notorious And Invincible With No Accountability?
Time and again, social media has proved to be a quite dangerous place for people as cybercrime and bullying have increased a lot, especially during the lockdown.
Moreover, ‘child predators’ and pedophiles often find their way searching for profiles of young children and harassing them online.
Social media has also proven to be a very depressing space, with the algorithm focused on portraying happy moments on people’s timelines. This contributes to one feeling more depressed about their own lives and worsens people’s fear of missing out.
Along with that, the entire platform is based on image and video sharing which puts quite a lot of pressure on the user who desires peer approvals in the form of likes and comments.
The letter also mentioned that “Facebook’s long track record of exploiting young people and putting them at risk makes the company particularly unsuitable as the custodian of a photo-sharing and social messaging site for children. In short, an Instagram site for kids will subject young children to a number of serious risks and will offer few benefits for families.”
It is worth thinking that today if as adults we are not able to handle the expectations and drastic effects of social media, how much will it affect the mindset of a child?
Rather than improvising their software to make it much harder for underage children to register on social media, the company has rather planned to set up social media accounts for them.
The move undoubtedly might subject young children to a very toxic cycle of obsession and depression due to social media. What are your thoughts on the same? Let us know in the comments section.
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