by: JoAnn Merrigan
Posted: / Updated:
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – How much is too much social media? A coalition of children’s advocacy groups is urging Facebook to scrap plans for a new Instagram platform for youth under 13.
Nearly 200,000 people have already signed their petition.
Gaan Akers — counselor for Hillside, which serves adolescents — says whether Facebook pays attention or not doesn’t change what’s happening now. Many youngsters are already online, and some have figured out how to get an Instagram account.
“What we already know is that about probably 40 to 50 percent of kids under 13 are on social media now,” said Akers. “And what we can do as mental health providers and parents is going to be much more important in response to whether this decision (from Facebook) happens or not.”
A letter sent to Facebook by a consortium of concerned groups and citizens says excessive use of digital devices and social media can be harmful.
“Excessive social media use linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression,” says Akers.
Advocates appealing to Facebook charge that Instagram may exploit young people’s desire for peer approval.
“Being able to connect 24-7, that hyper-connectivity is different from when we were growing up than it is today,” said Akers.
She says it has to be to parents to set controls and understand what their child may be seeing.
“You know, if we give 10-year-olds cell phones and then let them have free reign in their room, then we’re also not doing our jobs as parents to guide and teach them how to responsibly use this technology,” Akers said.
Facebook apparently has the project for kids in only the development stages.
“I think at the end of the day, it is still going to come down to the parents in setting healthy limits and boundaries on social media use,” said Akers.