If you didn’t know, know now: without making a noise, the Facebook had been developing the Instagram Kids. As the name points out, this would be a version of Instagram focused on children (10-12 years old). The company had already been criticized for this, but, coincidence or not, it decided to suspend the project this Monday (27) after another controversy.
Instagram and Teenage Mental Health
Albeit indirectly, this story begins on September 14, when the Wall Street Journal published a report about a study carried out by Facebook that indicates that Instagram can be harmful to the mental health of teenagers.
In fact, depending on the form or frequency of use, all social networks can be harmful to people of any age. But looking more closely at the relationship of young people with Instagram is necessary for a simple reason: this audience is very present on the social network.
The report points out that, in the United States alone, 40% of Instagram users are under 22 years of age. As a significant portion of them don’t access Facebook, it’s important for Mark Zuckerberg’s company to keep young people active on Instagram.
One way to do this is by refining content recommendation algorithms. Problems take shape at this point: Instagram’s Explore tab, for example, has great potential to suggest harmful content.
Based on queries with teen users in the US and UK, Facebook found that more than 40% of young women who consider themselves unattractive have started to have this kind of feeling on Instagram.
The study also shows that 32% of girls recognized that when they feel bad about their bodies, Instagram makes that feeling worse. Boys are also affected: 14% of them admitted that using the social network worsens feelings about themselves.
There are other worrying numbers found in the survey, for example: 13% of British teen users and 6% of American users who have had suicidal thoughts said these impulses are related to Instagram.
Reducing the use or abandoning the social network is the most trivial way to face the problem. But young people, especially teenagers, report difficulties in leaving Instagram. Not surprisingly: this and other social networks are made to be “addictive”.
Facebook gives up on Instagram Kids — for now
In an official statement, Facebook says that the idea of developing an Instagram experience for people under the age of 13 arose from the perception that children are having access to cell phones at an earlier age and, as a result, are downloading apps aimed at older users.
According to Facebook, Instagram Kids will come with parental controls, will not have ads and will only display age-appropriate content (10-12 years), for example.
But specialists view the proposal with suspicion due to the fear that this public could, among other things, be harmed by the dynamics of retaining users of the social network. The report of Wall Street Journal it served to intensify this concern.
Although the children’s version has been criticized for months, Facebook decided to stop developing Instagram Kids two weeks after the report. The company says the decision was made to give its team more time to work with parents, experts and authorities in developing the project, not in recognition that the critics are right.
The project was postponed, therefore not cancelled. In an excerpt of the statement, Facebook compares the idea to the equivalent options of other popular services:
We are not the only company to think that way. Our colleagues recognized these problems. [acesso a conteúdo inapropriado para a idade] and developed experiences for children. YouTube and TikTok have versions of their apps for users under 13 years old.
Facebook Says Instagram Doesn’t Harm Teens
In the same statement, Facebook implies that paralyzing the development of Instagram Kids is not related to the reporting of Wall Street Journal. The text has a link to another recent note. In this, the company claims that the aspects pointed out by the newspaper were not properly contextualized.
The company explains that the survey showed that the use of Instagram is positive for teenagers in 11 out of 12 points on well-being addressed and that the topic on body perception was the only one with a negative impact.
Despite this, Facebook points out that the survey did not measure the casual relationships between Instagram and real-world issues, and that the purpose of the survey is to discover and minimize what’s bad about the service while maximizing what’s there. of positive.