Facebook is building an Instagram for kids featuring built-in age-appropriate parental controls, daily usage limits and no advertising. Daily usage limits have only been discussed by Facebook, not confirmed. People are criticising Facebook for pure opportunism but are these critics seeing the real picture? At least they are trying.
Facebook is under pressure to show it is taking age verification seriously. Age verification is a contentious issue for social media portals. It is a cornerstone of Internet safety for younger Internet users. Parents, School principals, lawmakers are genuinely alarmed at;
Facebook has said they want to address childrens digital well-being in their new product with full parental controls. Ten things parents want from parental controls
Another major benefit will be the fact that with age verification is that kids will no longer be exposed to adult advertising on Instagram. Facebook has long said this is not their issue as kids lied about their age in the first place to get onto the platform. Hence they owed the kids no duty of care or obligation, unsurprisingly not everyone agreed. Now even Facebook admit that was a silly answer, and it's long past time to grow up.
Of course, another major reason for Facebook developing Instagram for kids has been the explosive growth of TikTok since COVID-19. When China's Bytedance, owners of TikTok took over Musical.ly it became even more popular with kids overtaking Instagram in classrooms worldwide.
In classroom polling with kids during our 2021 online safety talks primary school kids from the age of 7 to 13 were telling us they now preferred TikTok to Instagram. Kids still love Snapchat but TikTok replaced Instagram in their hearts as their favourite app in primary schools around the world. Facebook isn't one to take this lying down.
Large social media companies such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have been under pressure for years to do more about age verification. Facebook now says it is now going to use a mixture of artificial intelligence and data analysis to help verify the age of users.
They are going to look at birthday greetings, messages and use of emojis checking against the registered age of the user which they could have done years ago. The irony that it is in their self-interest is lost on no one.
Facebook want to work with Internet safety experts, parents and lawmakers in the development of 'Instagram Youth' or 'Instagram for kids' whatever it's going to be called.
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Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, says they knew they were going to take a lot of heat for developing this new children's app. However, he summarizes the company's position simply as ‘We had to do it.’ Mosseri has also said he wants Instagram to be the portal of happiness and safety for kids by which he means kids and tweens.
Whatever it's going to be called Instagram youth or Instagram of kids there's no launch date yet. However, Facebook has confirmed that the project is on. There is a lot of pressure to get this right, in terms of;
The race to launch a proper social media platform for the under thirteens is now officially on. The price is enormous, some commentators say it could double the value of Facebook if they secure the approval of parents, schools, and legislators worldwide.
It's a mammoth task developing a product that will;
The onset of COVID-19 saw a doubling in the use of the Internet especially gaming and social media portals and the number of new users in 2020. Fortnite, Netflix, Snapchat, Roblox and others said people were spending twice as much time online. Suddenly internet safety for children was a huge concern for all parents. All of these companies are working flat out to make sure they don't give back these gains. In our online safety talks, we always say that the Internet is a learned habit, we must now learn to use the Internet less, to games less, to spend less time online in this post COVID world.
Our focus in autumn, winter 2021 through 2022 must be to make sure that we get back to pre COVID-19 usage levels. We call this winning online no losing.
We're not sure how this is going to end up however Facebook and Instagram deserve credit for at least trying to address phone addiction, kids overusing games and social media. And above all making sure that the Internet becomes more age-appropriate for all of us.
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