Facebook’s Newest Project is Targeting Children



Earlier this year, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, proposed a new project to grow their audience: Instagram Kids. Supposedly, the plan was to capture the social media market for kids under the age of 13. But Facebook’s actions are not benign. 


The effect that social media has on its users, especially teenagers, is already incredibly harmful. Thus, Facebook’s “Instagram Kids” project is a massive red flag. Essentially, they’re conditioning children to become attached to their product at an even younger, more impressionable age, all while disguising the app as something that can be controlled by the parents. The reality is that no matter how many restrictions parents put over their children’s feed, the child will form an attachment to an app designed to engage.


Instagram is a widely-known, toxic app. In 2019, it was reported that “Two in five girls (40%) aged 11 to 16 in the UK say they have seen images on Instagram that have made them feel insecure or less confident about themselves.” This increases to half (50%) of girls when the age range is shifted to 17 to 21, according to research by Girlguiding in its annual girls’ attitudes survey


Now consider Facebook, a product of Meta, which has betrayed its users multiple times by selling their information and has also, despite conducting research that proves they negatively impact teen girls, denied having any control over their users. Facebook’s history is unsettling and alarming, but Meta took on an even bigger audience once they took ownership of Instagram. To make matters even worse, the company decided to expand its target audience to include pre-adolescents as well. Many were outraged by the proposal. 

Facebook only settled to put the project on pause, releasing a statement stating, “While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim, Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens”. I would argue that their response is unacceptable and ill-intended. Children, considering their vulnerability and sensitivity, must be protected from “Instagram Kids”, an app that will condition them to become attached to social media. The situation at hand, already unhealthy, would only get worse.