Kids should not have Instagram

Caroline Hendrix, Senior Writer

Childhood is a time for innocence and creating an identity for oneself, not for the pressures of the public eye and the pitfalls that the internet can produce. Instagram and other social media platforms create an opportunity for connectivity regardless of time and place, however, these platforms are also rooted in exposure and social pressure that can damage a young mind. Pressures to fit in, get likes and create a base of followers all can lead to behaviors and thoughts that are harmful to young people’s mental health. Kids cannot be kids when their thoughts are taken over by an app that creates the illusion of what the world is when it is only a mirage of still photos crafted for perfection. There is no need to make Instagram age-appropriate for children, for the app should not be used by children in general. 

Instagram launched in 2010 and I set up my profile when I was only 11 years old. I can tell you first hand the negative effects that social media had on my childhood. I remember feeling like how many followers I had or how many likes I got on my photos reflected my worth. As I grew older, the stress caused by Instagram has all but diminished. I have come to learn the insignificance of followers and like counts among every other part of life. It should not have mattered as much to me as it did when I was a kid, but I can say with certainty that I was not the only one experiencing these added pressures. All of my friends would send pictures and potential captions into group chats to ask for opinions and would have their eyes glued to their phone watching the like count, and some of my friends still do this today. Instagram and its addictive qualities have tapped into all of us and it is scary to look back on. 

This article comes at a time when Facebook paused the development of a new Instagram platform tailored to kids. The mere idea of the app faced so much backlash that its demolition was demanded by policymakers, parents and beyond before it even launched. Critiques are infuriated by this new business model. According to the New York Times, they argue that Instagram kids “hooks children on the app at a younger age rather than protecting them from problems with the service, including child predatory grooming, bullying and body shaming.” This argument intensifies the addictive realities of social media, showing how the damages to children run so much deeper than stressing about follower counts and likes. The hardest part to stomach is that according to the Journal, Facebook is aware of these negative effects of the current Instagram app, so it begs the question with a scary answer: why would they want to set kids up for that experience earlier on? A kids’ Instagram opens Facebook up to new consumers, a new demographic and thus, more profit. Critiques of the new app are prioritizing the health of our youth over profit. Will Facebook retreat and do the same?

Let me reiterate: I am not writing this to condemn social media use. As I explained, I have grown up to care less about how my photo performs on Instagram and I have learned to appreciate how much the app has opened me up to new people and perspectives. It allows me to stay in touch with people I meet throughout my life and it allows me to educate myself on current events. But what I will argue is for kids to not get on Instagram, and for Facebook to introduce more restrictions to stop young people from getting on the current version of Instagram. I am also arguing for the stop of production of their version of an age-appropriate Instagram. Kids do not need the additional social and mental pressures that social media gives them. Let kids be kids. 

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