100 Experts Tell Facebook: Don’t Launch Instagram for Kids Under 13

An international coalition of nearly 100 advocacy groups and child development experts said Facebook’s Instagram for kids under 13 will exploit children in numerous ways, putting their health and well being at risk.

An international coalition of 35 consumer advocacy groups and 64 experts in child development last week called on Facebook to ditch plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13.

In a press release, the coalition, led by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said research demonstrates “Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval.”

Instagram requires users to be 13 years or older to create an account, but in March, Buzzfeed reported on the social media giant’s plan to build a version of the platform for people under the age of 13 years to allow them to “safely” use Instagram for the first time. Facebook told the Guardian the company was exploring a “parent-controlled version” of Instagram, similar to the Messenger Kids app that is for kids between six and 12.

But in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, child development experts and consumer groups criticized the move:

“The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and well-being … Younger children are even less developmentally equipped to deal with these challenges, as they are learning to navigate social interactions, friendships and their inner sense of strengths during this crucial window of development.”

The authors of the letter said Facebook’s “long track record of exploiting young people and putting them at risk makes the company particularly unsuitable as the custodian of a photo-sharing and social-messaging site for children.”

The groups pointed to news reports about leaked documents showing how Facebook boasted to advertisers that it could target teens at the exact moment they were feeling bad about themselves, including when they have negative thoughts about their bodies.

The letter cited more than 20 studies on the negative impact of social media on children, which include: