CHICAGO - A group of parents and child advocacy agencies have banded together to crack down on social media apps that target young children.
Their joint movement is in response to Facebook revealing it is developing a version of Instagram for kids under the age of thirteen.
Earlier this month, 44 state attorneys general wrote Mark Zuckerberg asking him not to pursue the idea. On Thursday, a group of parents and almost two dozen child advocacy agencies joined the fight by launching a campaign called, "End Child Surveillance."
The End Child Surveillance campaign was launched with the goal of stopping tech companies from preying on children through social media, addictive apps, voyeuristic advertising, and what it called "chronic surveillance."
Amanda Kloer with Parents Together is among the advocates leading the campaign.
"We're becoming really concerned with these apps and websites that are pretty much taking over our kids' lives," she said. "We're worried they're addictive, that they're manipulative, that they're racially biased, that they take too much data from our kids."
Via Zoom, child advocates and mental health experts encouraged parents to sign a petition urging lawmakers to crack down on certain features for children, for example: Instagram displaying metrics like number of likes and number of followers. Many parents and mental health experts say those metrics negatively impact childrens' self-esteem.
"What I worry about most is social validation and kids starting to measure themselves and their self-worth based on these kinds of vanity metrics," said Sean, a father of two children under 10 who joined Thursday's call.
While Facebook claims its kids' version of Instagram would be ad-free, child advocates say that does not go nearly far enough to protect children.
"Many parents are not aware of the full range of harms done by these companies," Kloer said.
Facebook says it is developing Instagram for Kids in consultation with experts in child development, child safety, mental health and privacy advocates.
If you are interested in finding out more about the End Child Surveillance movement, the website is EndChildSurveillance.com.