Facebook halted work for a children’s app, Instagram Kids, after revelations the social media site was harmful to teen mental health.
And according to internet studies and psychology professionals, children’s online safety is more important than ever, with many Australian children forced to make friendships almost exclusively online during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Instagram said in an announcement Tuesday that it was “on hold” to the project to address widespread concerns and its internal research that found Instagram could affect young girls and boys when it comes to body image and body image issues. ‘self esteem.
Curtin University internet studies Professor Tama Leaver said the findings were a global problem, and a problem even more exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions, especially for young Australians.
Melbourne will officially become the most closed city in the world on October 4, surpassing Buenos Aires’ record of 234 days, while Greater Sydney has remained closed since June.
Professor Leaver said this was a problem because social media was a “big booster” that exacerbated any underlying mental health issues that kids can’t identify.
“What we do know is that social media tends to exacerbate existing problems,” he said. TSTIME.
“The great thing last week was that even internal Facebook research showed it’s definitely problematic for some teens and we can extrapolate from that, if you take even less mature kids it will probably be even more of a problem.
“I think for children this is particularly problematic because they are the least able to overcome these difficulties.”
Professor Leaver said the problem with children’s versions of social media platforms was that they tended to be more of a ‘gateway drug’ than a solution for dealing with underage users.
On Instagram, you must be at least 13 years old to create an account.
“They may have presented it as a solution to get to know those under 13 on the app… but in reality what they tend to be is more like introductory drugs,” a- he declared.
“They get people in as early as possible, get you used to the interface, and they’ll stay there for life.”
Principal researcher and clinical psychologist at Monash University, Dr Gemma Sharp echoed Professor Leaver, saying that Instagram Kids and platforms like it are potentially problematic due to children’s vulnerability online. Especially when they are in online spaces that may not be fully supervised.
“We know from our research as well as the internal findings that Instagram and other social media platforms can be a real trigger for some young people, ”said Dr Sharp. TSTIME.
“It’s a very image-driven environment and when young people compare themselves to these highly filtered and organized profiles, they can feel like they’re missing or not as good.
“It tends to make them worse about their looks and their overall self-esteem. “
Dr Sharp said around 80% of Australia’s population is on social media.
According to statistics on the use of social media sites in Australia in March 2018, 94% of 12-24 year olds use social media.
Parents must manage children’s social networks
Instagram director Adam Mosseri on Tuesday championed the development of the Instagram Kids app, which targets children aged 10 to 12 who are already using Instagram and faking their age to meet the 13-year-old opening requirement of social media application. an account.
Mr Mosseri said the “age-appropriate experience designed specifically for them” would help parents feel more secure about their children’s use of Instagram.
But Professor Leaver questioned whether the app was “really driven by good intentions.”
He said children aged 10 to 12 using social media was a “gray gray area” that needs to be addressed from the perspective of children and parents.
“Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, continually says that we prefer to empower parents to make these choices. That’s all well and good, but in fact, one of the big tricks used by Facebook, Instagram and others platforms is to put all responsibility on the parents, ”he said.
“It’s a problem when I don’t think the time or resources are being invested in ensuring that parents have digital literacy to be able to guide children in making these decisions necessarily.
“Parents often feel like they don’t have control over their own digital identity, let alone have the skills to help their children. “
Dr Sharp and Professor Leaver recommended that parents talk to their children about what they watch on social media, ask them how they feel, and help them make informed decisions about who to follow and not. not follow.
Professor Leaver advised parents who were feeling overwhelmed to read A Parent’s Guide to Instagram to help start the conversation.