The decision by social media giant Facebook, to pause their work on an Instagram platform for children is in the best interests of young people’s mental health, a Fine Gael TD has said.
TD for Dublin Mid-West and Fine Gael Spokesperson on Social Media, Deputy Emer Higgins has welcomed Facebook’s decision to halt work on their Instagram Kids project following concerns over the impact of the photo-sharing app on young people’s mental health and body image.
The decision comes after a recent report by the Wall Street Journal which found that Facebook had commissioned their own research which showed that Instagram could have a negative impact on girls’ mental health, body image and self-esteem.
“I welcome this decision by Facebook to pause their work on an Instagram platform specifically for 10-12-year olds and their commitment to engaging with parents, social-media experts and policymakers to better understand their concerns,” said Deputy Higgins.
“Social media has many benefits but its impact on the self-esteem and body-image of teenagers and even adults has been well documented so I would have serious concerns about developing an Instagram app specifically for children.
“This news of the harmful impact of Instagram on girls’ mental health, body image and self-esteem sadly does not come as a surprise to me and I think Facebook must seriously consider the implications of this project before going any further,” continued Deputy Higgins.
“Kids are using social media, we know this, and it’s not always a safe or nurturing environment for young people. But I would favour addressing the existing issues rather than creating a new platform for kids.
“Issues like trolling and cyber-bulling, the sharing of abusive and inappropriate content and the over manipulation and editing of images in order to sell products – are all issues on which I have been vocal in the past.
“If we try to keep young people away from social media I think that is a battle we will lose, but creating an Instagram specifically for kids feels like a step too far to me,” said Deputy Higgins.
“Children have all of their adult lives to be on social media, we have a duty to equip them and prepare them to navigate the digital world but there is no need to create an Instagram for kids that may prematurely expose them to the dangers and stresses that social media can create,” concluded Deputy Higgins.