Facebook Inc. announced it is pausing work on rolling out an Instagram Kids site after the social networking company came under criticism for its negative effect on children, especially on teenage girls.
Facebook stated that is not abandoning the idea to create a dedicated experience for kids under 13, but will take time to discuss with experts, parents and policymakers to “demonstrate the value and need for this product.”
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea,” Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post Monday. “That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today.”
A recent expose in the Wall Street Journal revealed how Facebook consistently played down its own research that photo-sharing app Instagram can harm the mental well-being of its youngest users. Almost a third of young teen girls told Facebook they felt worse about their bodies after scrolling through the site, according to documents reviewed by the newspaper.
Facebook had been working on creating a site specifically for preteens that would require parental permission to join, wouldn’t contain ads and would promote age-appropriate content and features. Facebook argued that kids are lying about their age to get on Instagram anyway, so a youth-oriented product — with parental controls — would be a safer alternative and provide a legitimate bridge to when they would be eligible for the full site. Facebook also launched Messenger Kids in 2017, a version of the company’s messaging app that allows parents to keep tabs on their children’s use.