NEW YORK (NEWS10/WTNH) — Facebook wants to create a version of Instagram for kids under the age of 13. But, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general – including Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong – is calling on the app’s parent company to drop the idea.
“The risks are so many,” AG Tong told News 8.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, along with Connecticut’s AG Tong and 42 others, has signed a letter expressing concern about how social media impacts the emotional well-being of children and the potential for cyberbullying.
“Instagram for kids will undoubtedly open the door for predators, cyberbullying, and other potential dangers. Facebook has failed to protect its adult users from disinformation, abuse, and privacy breaches, so how can it be expected to protect vulnerable and impressionable children from these dangers?” Attorney General Tong said. “The science has shown us that social media usage among children is linked to increased mental health issues and self-harm behavior. Facebook should strongly reconsider the launch of this product for the health and safety of our children.”
“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said Attorney General James. “Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators. There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids. We must continue to ensure the health and wellness of our next generation and beyond.”
A Facebook company spokesperson said they’re committed to keeping kids safe as they work to expand this platform.
This spokesperson released a statement to News 8:
“As every parent knows, kids are already online. We want to improve this situation by delivering experiences that give parents visibility and control over what their kids are doing. We are developing these experiences in consultation with experts in child development, child safety and mental health, and privacy advocates. We also look forward to working with legislators and regulators, including the nation’s attorneys general. In addition, we commit today to not showing ads in any Instagram experience we develop for people under the age of 13.”
In the meantime, parents are being reminded to be careful and mindful when it comes to their kids and social media.
“You always have to because you never know who’s behind the screen, so you have to monitor what you do at all times,” said Iyanna Hardison, of Hartford.
It hasn’t been announced when this version of Instagram would launch.