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Facebook Paused The Development Of Instagram For Kids. Now What?

When it comes to teens logging on, the horse left the barn a long time ago. So who's responsible for ensuring their wellbeing?
When it comes to teens logging on, the horse left the barn a long time ago. So who's responsible for ensuring their wellbeing?

On Monday, Facebook announced it was pausing the development of Instagram Kids — a service designed for children 13 and under.

The move comes after a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed Facebook’s own internal research about how its platforms are negatively impacting the mental health of young users.

From WSJ:

For the past three years, Facebook has been conducting studies into how its photo-sharing app affects its millions of young users. Repeatedly, the company’s researchers found that Instagram is harmful for a sizable percentage of them, most notably teenage girls.

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.

“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

[…] In public, Facebook has consistently played down the app’s negative effects on teens, and hasn’t made its research public or available to academics or lawmakers who have asked for it.

On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing about the toxic effects of social media on young people.

When it comes to teens logging on, the horse left the barn a long time ago. So who’s responsible for ensuring their wellbeing? We put that question to a panel of experts.

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