Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Gets Pushback on Release of 'Instagram for Kids' Due to Mental Health Concerns
Democratic lawmakers are urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to leave his plans of launching an "Instagram for Kids" after internal research by the firm found that the social media app can take a toll on young people's mental health.
The internal research particularly cited suicidal ideation among teenage users, especially to some young girls, Gizmodo reported.
Lawmakers said that children and teens are particularly vulnerable populations online, adding that the findings paint a clear picture of Instagram as a platform that threatens young people's wellbeing.
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Reps. Kathy Castor of Florida and Lori Trahan of Massachusetts sent a letter on Wednesday to Mark Zuckerberg to express concerns about the company's plans to introduce a version of Instagram for users under 13.
Markey, Castor, and Trahan said in their letter that the internal research of Zuckerberg's company found disturbing relationships between Instagram use and young people's mental health.
Instagram for Kids
Lawmakers, regulators, and parents have expressed their opposition to Facebook's plans to launch Instagram Youth since being first revealed in March, NPR reported. Child safety groups and 44 state attorneys general have also urged Facebook to leave the project.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn also accused the company of providing evasive answers that were "misleading and covered up clear evidence" of threats.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said that she and her fellow Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee had requested Facebook internal's research in March. Rodgers added that Facebook had refused to comply with their request, adding that now they know why.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg and other company officials have defended Instagram Youth, saying it would be better to make a version that specifically caters to a particular age group with parental control.
Instagram and Mental Health Problems on Users
Top Facebook officials know that Instagram can negatively impact mental health, body image, particularly teenage girls.
Researchers noted that 32 percent of teenage girls said that Instagram had made them feel worse by making them feel bad about their bodies, USA Today reported.
Facebook also found that more than 40 percent of Instagram users reported feeling "unattractive" and linked it back to the social media platform. In addition, teens blame Instagram for the increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.
Teenage boys were not exempted from this. Researchers found that 14 percent of boys in the U.S. said Instagram, the photo-sharing app Facebook also owns, made them feel more negatively about themselves.
The company has publicly downplayed Instagram's impacts despite taking some steps to possibly reduce the negative effects on teens, such as removing counts of "likes."
Head of public policy at Instagram, Karina Newton, said that they stand by this research despite the story "focuses on a limited set of findings" and putting it in a negative light.
Newton further noted that social media is not "inherently good or bad for people." She said that the research on the effects of social media is mixed.
This article is owned by Latin Post
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: Report: Internal Research Found Instagram Can Harm Young Users' Mental Health - From CBS New York
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