Facebook is being urged to scrap plans for a version of Instagram for children.
The social media giant is reportedly planning to launch a special version of the photo-sharing platform – which normally has a joining age of 13 – for youngsters that would be “managed by parents”.
But their plans have been slammed in a letter from the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood, which has been signed by 99 groups and individuals who claim the “image-obsessed” platform is too dangerous for children.
The letter cites research from The Royal Society for Public Health which rated Instagram as the worst social media platform for youth mental health.
According to the BBC, part of the letter reads: “Instagram’s focus on photo-sharing and appearance makes the platform particularly unsuitable for children who are in the midst of crucial stages of developing their sense of self.
“Children and teens (especially young girls) have learned to associate overly sexualised, highly edited photos of themselves with more attention on the platform, and popularity among their peers.”
However, Facebook has said that children are “already online”, so having a child-friendly version of Instagram will help them connect with their friends in a “safe and age-appropriate way”.
They said: “Kids are already online, and want to connect with their family and friends, have fun, and learn. We want to help them do that in a safe and age-appropriate way, and find practical solutions to the ongoing industry problem of kids lying about their age to access apps.”
Facebook is currently working on “new age verification methods” to help keep under-13s off of Instagram, and have insisted they won’t show advertisements on a child-friendly version of the app if development plans go ahead.
They added: “We’re working on new age verification methods to keep under-13s off Instagram, and have just started exploring an Instagram experience for kids that is age-appropriate and managed by parents.
“We agree that any experience we develop must prioritise their safety and privacy, and we will consult with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates to inform it. We also won’t show ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”