I want to make it clear, as soon as I start, that I do not think that Instagram is comparable to tobacco, and that although I think that an Instagram for children is definitely a bad idea, I prefer that a child wants to be a pre-adolescent or adolescent to enter Instagram than to start smoking. That said, actually neither option seems good to me. Actually both seem harmful to me and I think they should be avoided.
In the past week, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) organization sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg. It is a long text in academic references and very interesting approaches and that, without a doubt, deserves to be read. A document that arises after learning that Facebook is working on a specific version of Instagram for children under 13 years of age with whom, according to the company, they want to offer a safe environment for the little ones.
«I am pleased to announce that, in the future, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and added it to our H1 priority listVishal Shah, Instagram VP of Product, wrote in a an internal publication that was leaked a few weeks ago and in which it points to the Instagram for children. “We will build a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerate our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens, and (b) build a version of Instagram that enables people minors under the age of 13 to use Instagram safely for the first time «.
«In the elementary and middle school years, children experience incredible growth in their social skills, abstract thinking, and sense of self. Find outlets to express yourself and connect with your companions becomes especially important. We are concerned that an Instagram proposal for children will take advantage of these rapid developmental changes.
More and more research shows that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful for teens. Instagram, in particular, takes advantage of young people’s fear of missing something and their peers’ desire for approval to encourage children to use them.«We can read in the letter to Zuckerberg.
So, at this point, it is important to ask yourself a question: Is there a real need for an Instagram for kids? It seems sensational to me that the little ones have access to knowledge, to socialization media, to games in which to have fun with their friends, but social networks? Really?
Facebook knows that younger users are its unfinished business, they do not finish connecting with the younger generations and see in it a huge growth niche. I understand their business perspective, of course, and it would seem right for them to work to create new products and services that are truly adapted to the needs of this important sector of the population. Now, I emphasize, needs, an Instagram for children does not satisfy a real need, but the same longing “to be older” that I had, as a child, and bought chocolate cigarettes.
Chocolate cigarettes were very popular in the eighties. Image: I went to EGB.
The influence of social media can be terribly harmful even for adults, which at least in theory already have all the emotional tools necessary to manage the way in which they assimilate what they see in them. And it is also true and indisputable that in them we can find all kinds of content, and I am sure that the plans for Instagram for children go through refining as much as possible the content that reaches the little ones.
The problem is that by now there are so many declarations of intent by the networks that, in the end, they have been left alone in that, that I have a hard time believing that Facebook will find the right model so that your Instagram for children under 12 does not become a clone to scale of what we can find in the adult version. A clone of the service that, for example, we already know that the algorithm prefers you with little clothes.
In childhood the personality is built, but It is also where many of the complexes that can accompany us throughout life are born, and an early access to Instagram can delve into them. An Instagram for children that exclusively shows content suitable for that audience sounds as sensational as it is utopian and, in the end, it can become a tool to normalize access to certain content that children should not access in an environment without any control.
I am not going to be so cynical as to say that yes, to this day, I am a smoker, it is because as a child I bought chocolate cigarettes. I know that everything is much more complex, but what I do know is that that bauble made me feel older, and I’m sure that an Instagram for children could suppose that same dopamine shot … and that bad influence.
Perhaps there are those who are surprised by what I am going to say, but the truth is that I like Instagram. I like a lot. Even being aware of its shadows, in general it seems to me a much friendlier service than other social networks. For example, the presence of hate is much more controlled than on Twitter. I clarify it so that this criticism cannot be construed as meaning personal animosity towards service, well, it’s not like that. Now, I also like the wines of the Aragonese pre-Pyrenees, but that does not mean I would share a glass with a 10-year-old boy. With an Instagram for children the exact same thing happens to me.