Local Mental Health Expert Weighs In After Facebook Pauses Development Of Instagram Kids

Monday, September 27th 2021, 4:48 pm
By: Erika Lee

Facebook said it has paused development of “Instagram Kids” amid criticism and studies that it has negative mental health effects on teenage girls.

Originally, Facebook wanted to build a more “age appropriate experience” for children on the social media platform, but will be delaying this. “Instagram Kids” is tailored for those aged 13 years old or younger.

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Facebook researchers concluded that Instagram was making mental health problems worse for many of its younger users, specifically young girls.

Forty-four state attorneys general also asked Facebook to abandon the project.

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, released the following statement Monday in response:

“We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older. While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project."

While there are benefits to social media such as access to connection and information, many local parents and mental health experts agree that pausing the project is a good idea.

"Girls, they start comparing themselves,” said Courtney Fisher, an Edmond parent of one tween and one teen. “They’re thinking ‘gosh I wish I looked like that, I wish I had their hair.’”

According to the study from the Wall Street Journal, Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.

"What's being created is not necessarily real,” said Jeff Dismukes, communications director of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “It’s not something you can live up to. It creates a really undue pressure."

Dismukes said that there has been concern after the harmful effects of social media across the board, with parent groups.

While keeping your child away from social media might be impossible, Dismukes recommends moderation.

"It's important to monitor what it is our kids are utilizing to communicate, what they're engaged in,” Dismukes said. “It's important to set reasonable limits with your limits for your use."

Instagram said they will continue to work with parents, experts, and policymakers to listen to their concerns before they roll out this project again.