Facebook pauses development of Instagram for kids, will speak with ‘parents, experts’

Tech

(NewsNation Now) — Facebook announced Monday that it is pausing plans to develop a kids’ version of its Instagram app.

The company says it’s taking a step back and talking to parents and safety experts to get a consensus on how to move forward.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that it has to be better to give parents the option to be on Instagram with parental controls, so they know what their kids are looking at, with no advertisements and appropriate content.

Facebook has very specifically not said that it will abandon the project.

Instead, Mosseri said in a blog post that the company will use its pause time “to work with parents, experts and policymakers to demonstrate the value and need for this product.”

NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert talked with psychologist John Duffy about recent studies that show teenagers, specifically young girls, are being adversely affected by social media like Instagram.

“Facebook’s own research showed that the self-worth, the self-esteem and the body image issues for kids … are being negatively impacted by their time on Instagram,” Duffy said.

Facebook is “putting the brakes on for that reason,” Duffy said. “I think that’s an important reason to do it.”

Its decision to merely pause the project suggests it still plans to expose a much younger audience to Instagram.

Duffy stressed the importance of having parental controls on social media, saying, “From a clinical point of view, kids are at some degree of risk in terms of their mental health.”

“Young kids have access to this stuff, even if we think they don’t,” Duffy said. “They are way ahead of us in terms of following parental controls and circumventing them.”

Knowing that social media is going to be a part of a teen’s culture, “The best thing we can do is understand what it is they are going through on social media,” Duffy said.

Parents need to “know that part of their world in a way that isn’t damning to them, that doesn’t shame them or shut them down,” Duffy said.

Parents are busy, Duffy said, but have to make time to talk to kids about what they’re seeing online, in particular on social media.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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