Many parents are worried about Instagram’s popularity after the revelations made this week by Frances Haugen , a whistleblower from. These internal Facebook studies revealed that the app has caused serious harm to teenagers.
Haugen testified Tuesday that “the patterns that children create as teenagers remain with them for their whole lives.”
“The bullying that is posted on Instagram follows the bullies home. It follows them into their bedrooms. Haugen stated that the last thing they see before going to bed is someone being cruel to their children. “Kids are discovering that their friends, those they care about, can be cruel to them,” Haugen said.
What can you do to help your children? Experts recommend that parents openly communicate with their children, set age limits, and monitor activity if necessary. This will help them navigate social media’s dangers while still allowing them to have conversations with their peers.
IS 17 THE NEW 13?
Wondering why children can use Instagram and other social media platforms at 13? It’s due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which was in effect in 2000. This is before teenagers today were born. (And when Mark Zuckerberg was just a teenager).
It was designed to protect children’s online privacy. Websites and online services were required to provide clear privacy policies and to get consent from parents before collecting personal information about their children. Social media companies generally prohibit children under 13 from signing up for services. However, it has been well documented that children sign up with or without permission from their parents.
Online privacy is not the only issue when it comes down to online safety for kids. Bullying, harassment, and, according to Facebook’s research, the possibility of developing eating disorders, suicidal ideas, or worse, is all part of online life.
Haugen suggested that the age limit be raised to 16 or 18. Some parents, educators, and tech experts have suggested that the age limit be raised to 16 or 18. The age limit has not been increased by social media companies or the government.
Christine Elgersma is a social media expert at Common Sense Media. She said that there is no magic age. She said, however, that 13 is not the ideal age to start social media for children.
It is still complicated. It’s not possible to confirm an individual’s age by signing up for online and mobile apps. Apps that are popular among teens today were originally designed for adults. Elgersma said that while some companies have made improvements over time, these are not major overhauls to the services.
She said, “Developers must start building apps with children in mind.” She doesn’t refer to Instagram Kids, which Facebook suspended last week due to widespread backlash. She stated that she couldn’t trust a company who didn’t begin with children’s best interests in mind.
Facebook claims it has added many safeguards and features to improve teens’ well-being over the years. These include mental-health support for those who search for common hashtags that are associated with self-harm or eating disorders. Monika Bickert from Facebook’s global policy management, said that hiding “likes” counts was also tested. “This means that if you post something, you don’t have to worry whether people will like it and whether they see it,” she explained.
Facebook researchers discovered that teens do not feel happier if they hide likes.
TALK, TALK, TALK
You can start early and you will be more successful than you realize. Elgersma recommends that parents review their social media accounts with their children before they become able to use them online. They can then have open discussions about what they see. What would you do if a friend asks your child to send a picture? If they read an article that angers them, they want to share it immediately.
Older children should approach older ones with curiosity and interest.
She suggested that teens should not give you grunts or single-word answers if they are asking questions about their friends or asking them direct questions such as ‘What are you doing on Instagram?’ or ‘hey, this influencer is really famous.’ Even if your child rolled their eyes, it could be a window.
Jean Rogers, Fairplay’s director, advises parents not to say “turn that thing on” if your child has been scrolling for a while. Fairplay is a non-profit that encourages kids to spend less time online.
Rogers stated, “That’s not respect.” Rogers stated, “It doesn’t respect that they have an entire life and a complete world in that device.”
Rogers suggests instead asking your child questions about their phones and observing what your child will share.
Elgersma stated that children are more likely to respond to their parents and teachers “pulling back” the curtain on social media and the often insidious tools used by companies to keep them online and engaged. Watch ” The Social Dilemma” a documentary that examines the algorithms, dark patterns, and dopamine feedback loops of social media. You can also learn how TikTok and Facebook make money.
She said that kids love to know these things and it will give them a sense power.
Vicky Lacksonen is a mother of a 53-year old son in Mount Vernon, Ohio. She is familiar with the passcodes for her son’s smartphone and will sometimes push him to turn it off if he has been using it for too long. As long as her 14 year-old son is good in school and engaged in activities like soccer, she allows him to use his phone and other apps such as Instagram.
Lacksonen stated that you don’t know what they are looking at. “Just having conversations with them and talking to them is huge… don’t be afraid asking questions.”
Rogers claims that most parents are successful in taking their children’s phones away from their homes overnight to reduce their scrolling. Sometimes kids will try to steal the phone back but it is a good strategy because children need to be away from the screen.
Rogers stated that “they need to make an excuse with their peers not to be on their phones at night,” Rogers added. They can blame their parents.
Parents might have their own rules about phone usage. Rogers suggested that it is important to explain what you’re doing with your phone so they can understand why you don’t scroll through Instagram. Explain to your child that you are checking work email, researching a recipe or paying a bill. This will help them understand that you are not just using the phone for entertainment. Tell them when you will put the phone down.
It’s impossible to do it alone
It’s not fair, and parents should be aware of this. Roxana Marachi is a professor at San Jose State University and a data harms researcher. She says that social media apps such as Instagram are made to be addictive. Marachi stated that parents cannot do much if there are no new laws to regulate how tech companies use data and algorithms to push users towards harmful content.
Marachi stated that companies don’t care about children’s well being. They’re more interested in maximizing clicks and keeping their eyes on the screen. “Period.”