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Dear Zuckerberg, We're writing to urge you to cancel Instagram for children [pdf] (commercialfreechildhood.org)
369 points by giuliomagnifico 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 262 comments

Why aren't parent ready to take responsibility? I have small kids and nephews, none of them get/will get smartphone till 13-15. Laptop, the 8 year old uses has a whitelist of apps/sites. If they need anything from Youtube, I'll download it and they play on VLC. Why should Zuckerbergs of the world be able to enter their world without supervision?

While I agree with you completely, I imagine there are a number of parents not savvy enough to know how to lock these things down.

I tell parents about the reasons to avoid this stuff all the time and many of them are so exhausted it's more of a "whatever, they will be fine" type of response (more politely of course, but that's the gist of it).

I feel it now too. My kids are in middle school and all their friends are getting phones. All I hear about is "Everybody else can do X! We're the only ones that can't."

I let them have stretches of unlimited game access and when I saw what it was doing, took them away. After experiencing it, when I explained how the games work to make them addicted and the things that we saw changing in their behavior they understood and at least now they take a lot of what I say more seriously when I warn them. So that's a positive.

I have backed off on some things due to the pandemic just to make it easier to play with their friends (Fortnite, Roblox, etc). Previously my generally rule was "no iPad/iPhone/Touchscreen games" but just about anything on the Switch/Xbox was fine. I find that games that you purchase vs games that are free don't have anywhere close to the same tilt toward addiction, ad feeds, timed rewards, etc. I also don't see the negative behaviors that came from these either.

Over time, their friends parents seem to be going the other direction and getting more strict with the electronics, so I'm hearing less "why can't we" and more "he can't play anymore today".

Social stuff though...zero chance. None. It's a disease.

> a number of parents not savvy enough

This is an important factor that extends into all aspects of tech that I've worked around. Us tech savvy people take a staggering amount of knowledge for granted, I think - partially due to how technical knowledge can compound and transfer so well.

People use the term whitelist - why not supervise kids with a whitelist? I understand that idea (I've written the behaviour into software), and I'd even seek it out if I wanted to protect my kids. But to some people, this concept won't make sense at all. They'll ask things like "Why does the phone know what my kid can see?" or "How can the phone know what each app/website is?" – questions that almost make no sense if you know how these things work. But, that's the world we live in. I personally think it's my responsibility as someone privileged enough to be technical to help those who don't understand. Whether it's my kids or their grandma or the people I work with. Most people learn these concepts readily, but they have no idea where to start or what to look for to learn. It's not really their fault (not that you or anyone suggested it is).

> games that you purchase vs games that are free don't have anywhere close to the same tilt toward addiction, ad feeds, timed rewards, etc

Absolutely, it seems analogous to watching a movie vs watching T.V.

> Social stuff though...zero chance. None. It's a disease.


> a number of parents not savvy enough

I’m sure this is probably a thing overall, but I also distinctly remember some extremely tech savvy friends, people making their livings in tech from the 90’s, using iPhone with games and YouTube as an opium stick whenever their 7-10 year olds wouldn’t sit still in public.

They fought about it, so maybe it was a cultural thing, but it definitely wasn’t because they didn’t understand the mechanics of adtech.

I also have super techno-illiterate friends whose teenage son spends maybe an hour a day online.

I don’t pretend to know the parenting solution but my anecdata suggests the tech-savvy parents are not automatically better at this than their less-teched counterparts.

Oh, even as cautious as I am, letting a small child have a tablet for a few minutes so you can have a peaceful dinner conversation is absolutely a tradeoff I'd be willing to make now and then.

I don't know you start to mess with their dopamine loops at that point.

This is the nature of an addictive technology that has an influence on peer groups.

If it's flashy, exciting, looks cool - other children are going to want to have the same thing too.

In a situation like that, even if your own preference is to have a quiet, slow existence for your family -- and even if that's what other families want too -- the environment has been altered by this external factor.

Adults aren't immune to these kind of peer effects either, to be honest - but it's particularly pathetic for multi-billion dollar companies to intentionally market towards children with the hope of holding on to their attention and customer data.

I agree completely. There is probably no shortage of tech savvy parents out there who don’t care to apply their understanding to furthering their parenting. All of that takes real work and consideration, which is fundamentally just good parenting. That doesn’t come as part of the tech package - tech prowess is just a convenient asset to apply to problems.

> All I hear about is "Everybody else can do X! We're the only ones that can't."

This is the main issue. If they don't participate in online communities where their friends are, they will have significant social disadvantage.

As a grown up, I had quit Facebook for about a year, and I noticed my social life was declining slowly. Someone would forget to invite me to some event. Someone might be shocked that I didn't know so and had a baby. And I am sure people started to label me as weirdo for not having Facebook.

Back to kids, yeah this is a social issue, not something that one can solve alone for just their family.

> And I am sure people started to label me as weirdo for not having Facebook.

They probably just don’t think of you. That’s the more likely scenario. People who engage with social media will stay in people’s minds more. If you’re not on there or not engaged, people will likely just forget about your existence. If I’m not connected to someone on social media or they don’t engage at all, there’s quite a bit of me forgetting they ever existed. After all, it’s not like we all see each other in physical spaces all the time. (Even pre-pandemic)

I quit facebook roughly seven years ago. Like you, I did notice a decline in my social life over the following year. However, things did slowly improve over time and now I have no complaints (the last year has been tough to keep up with people due to the pandemic, though).

The difference is I have to go out of my way to keep up with people over text, calls, or email. It's not that hard to do, though, since it's how I lived my life before facebook. Some people do think it's weird that they can't find me on facebook and I am probably missing out on one or two people who moved to "only facebook" communications, but honestly I don't really miss them.

Let me say I don't have children of my own, and I want to send you positive vibes and encouragement. Stay attentive and positive with your kids, and I hope we can stop the monopolists from monetizing our children.

Thank you

If people are not tech-savy enough, that just means there are a number of products to be built (and should be built) to steam line it.

I remember I had email way before my parents, and now they use email everyday. People can learn how to use technologies, they just need the right training and simple UIs.

I feel for the parents that are not tech-savy, I do not feel for the parents that can see how social media is having negative effects of their children's brains.

> I explained how the games work to make them addicted and the things that we saw changing in their behavior they understood and at least now they take a lot of what I say more seriously

This is very interesting, can you give more details please?

How did you explain this stuff to them, and the behavior you noticed. How did they take it? How about having social media?

" I imagine there are a number of parents not savvy enough to know how to lock these things down."

I recently decided to start using Netgear's parental controls (after many years of ignoring it) on our wifi router and found that they discontinued it due to a lack of use.

discontinued it due to a lack of use.

...wait, how would they know it wasn't being used, unless they were also spying on your router?

Spying has very negative connotations, it's just analytics on what features are enabled or possibly based on traffic of the parental control blocklists. Spying is a harsh term to use. More like snooping

We put snoopers in jail.

"I wasn't looking in your child's bedroom window for bad reasons. I was just gathering telemetry and analytics."

If you genuinely don't see the difference between spying on a child and determining which features are more used to better allocate developers, I'm sorry.

There’s no difference these days. Just search up youtube kids lawsuits for an eye opener.

I still do not see how collecting a simple yes or no for whether a feature is enabled is at all related to spying on kids, even collecting their data. it is not browsing habits. It is just on or off

Because once the data collection starts it only grows, it never gets smaller. They also never just grab a few flags but everything the environment allows them to take and employ "growth hackers" to find more.

When new employees walk in, any moral conviction that existed in the first implementation takes its leave.

Honestly, given the near certainty and repetition of history, your disbelief comes off as naivete.

And when that happens, you can complain. But until then, I think it's widely considered okay to collect small amounts of data (literally a single bit) on which features are enabled, so features can be better worked on. Firefox does it by default for example.

Complaining doesn't help when your data has already been bought and sold by ten different brokers.

And I'm a strong supporter of privacy. Collecting statistics on whether or not you enable a feature is basically universal. Use DDWRT, I do.

Wondering why this shit community is down voting this comment. It is a relevent observation about an extremely common device and service related to the topic. Wtf

Not savvy enough to not give their kid a smart device though?

I used to think this way. I have 3 kids, the oldest of which is now in her mid teens. Doing what you say is way harder than you think. Mostly because you have to control not only your own children, but your children's friends as well.

For example, my kids did not get phones. But all of their friends had them. Which meant my kids would just create accounts for these services on their friends phones and just post whatever they wanted without me being able to control it.

A second example is when their friends get new phones. Guess what they do with the old phone? They give it other kids who don't have them. Sure, they don't have a cell plan. But that doesn't stop them from using wifi at starbucks or any other place.

There are millions of parents, while there is only one Mark Zuckerberg. There's no such thing as parents collectively deciding to take responsibility, and it's unfair to the children to just expect them to have good parents. It's a classic case of a coordination problem.

So if we break up facebook, there is no hope?

What? It's not that there's just one Zuck, it's that there are fewer Zucks than parents. The strategy would be the same if there were 5 Facebooks competing for market share.

Ironically, it could be argued that it's easier when Facebook is the only player in town; otherwise the argument might be "But my competition does it! It's a race to the bottom - I can't compete if I act ethically!"

>and it's unfair to the children to just expect them to have good parents.

Also unfair because some parents are not rich. Some aren't living in the right place. Some are not highly intelligent. Some are not woke enough. Indeed very very unfair.

Lets hand over the responsibility to companies or to the state. Communistic coordinated child parenting probably isn't gonna make it better for the children but at least its fair.

Could you clarify your point? It's hard to tell what it is.

The point is that the premise is nonsense. You cant justify top down ruling by the fact that some parents aren't good parents.

If you go that route you could top down rule everything because some people are not good people. The end goal would be some kind of totalitarian government.

I think you identified the next great charity, "The foundation for the forgotten children of unwoke parents".

Glad I found the one person on HN that can detect sarcasm.

Handing over control to the state? Communism? What are you talking about? I’m worried there may be a CO2 build up in your bunker.

You're asking parents why they might have trouble competing for their children's attention vs. a company with essentially unlimited money and some of the best programmers and marketers in the world? I sincerely hope you're being sarcastic.

By the way, I can almost guarantee you that your kids will find a way to get themselves smartphones before you officially allow it. Kids are resourceful, and there's nothing as tempting as something their parents tell them they can't have.

Why is the assumption that it's an either-or thing? We can have responsible parents AND people being outraged at zuck's moneygrab-at-the-expense-of-children move.

With this said, I don't exactly understand how an instagram for children can possibly hope to NOT run afoul of COPPA. All it takes is one child uploading a single photo of themselves or their siblings, or referring to a friend by name in a comment, or heck even just using their real name in their username...

This is absolutely fine. Until you realise that your kids are absolutely miserable because all of their friend groups are arranging to meet in the park or whatever via WhatsApp.

You’ll get really sick of downloading every. Single. Minecraft redstone tutorial for them.

If their "friends" are arranging play through some medium that they know the kid doesn't have access too, I have some bad news for the kid: They're probably not his friends. My friends know that I'm not on Facebook, and they know to contact me over E-mail when we're getting together.

EDIT: Wow, how is this so unpopular? Do your friends regularly make plans together without you?

Must've been a while since being a child, huh? I mean, I get where you're coming from, but your ideological stance not gonna help your child at all.

As opposed to the stance (admittedly also ideological, but I agree with this one) that facebook and all its subsidiaries should gtfo children's lives.

We agree that social media should GTFO of children's lives at least! I'm just responding to the parent who said the kid's "friend groups are arranging to meet in the park or whatever via WhatsApp". If they are arranging these things and leaving the kid out, that doesn't sound like very friendly behavior to me.

Back when I was a kid and dinosaurs roamed the earth, we made after-school plans in 4th period math, because we were all in the same class. If my friends suddenly started making plans in a class where they knew I wasn't present, I'd start questioning whether they were really friends.

Do you really not remember being a kid? What your parents allow you to do, have, how they present you all has a very significant influence on how other kids perceive you and whether you will be accepted as a friend.

Being a kid without friends because your parents sucked at teaching you how to integrate into society, is very very hard. And allowing your children to be part of other children's social lives, that matters. Even if that means joining shitty social networks.

Does that situation suck, yes. But don't put this on the kids. Please don't make children suffer because of your views on an idealistic society.

The social norm these days is really different. It's not about your friends suddenly starting a new, exclusive behavior; its about a slow migration of the people in your social world to a tech platform you don't have access to. And kids do get left out because of this--not for nefarious reasons, but because they're just not going to be in the loop for a significant part of the social interactions that are taking place.

Thanks. I suppose maybe I'm just getting elderly and out of touch. Gotta be open to that possibility. I know kids can be cruel but wow. Even if not nefarious, it's callous. In my day you were excluded because you were weird, now it's because you aren't hooked to a particular corporate-mediated communication medium. Sometimes I think we deserve the mild dystopia we have built for ourselves!

This is kind-of a meta comment, but I expect that the platforms would actually benefit from this kind of defeatism in older generations, so I'd encourage you not to concede to it.

Yes, platforms can influence social interaction a lot - but ultimately, regardless of age, we're all still human.

I think most people learn to understand what's fair and unfair in terms of inclusivity, even if it takes longer in some situations. We'll figure out better solutions.

It's almost as if there's a pattern in the way that social networks grow, attract users (perhaps identifying people who are likely to draw other users on-board), and then atrophy after being seen as 'outdated' -- usually around the same time that a new platform happens to be appearing.

I think for a lot of our communications, elements of 4th period math have now moved to a group chat.

"They're probably not his friends." is right. The problem is that being "the weird kid who's strict parents won't let him have a phone" could mean he won't have any real friends. Kids can be harsh, and being different to everyone else doesn't help.

Maybe he'll have friends who'll put the additional effort in to copy him in on email or phone the home land-line. But maybe he won't. Seems a big risk to take.

You're asking a lot of immature, status-obsessed humans to go out of their way to accommodate someone. They might not even be "friends" yet, just social groups that one might like to be a part of. How are you meant to make friends if you can't participate in popular bonding exercises in the first place? WhatsApp groups are social venues in their own right.

As a parent, I know I signed up for this. I need to tell her "no" many times a day, every day, for things she really wants to do. That's part of being a parent. I need to suck it up and be a parent.

That said, I don't appreciate that there are people out there like Zucc, who are making it their business to create even more things I have to say no to, and specifically targeting them at kids. Just like those people out there making kids games that are essentially casino gambling, but just barely on the safe side of the legal line. Thanks, a lot assholes, for adding no value to the world and giving me yet another thing to forbid my kid from doing.

I feel this deeply, especially the final paragraph. Feels really depressing sometimes to think how much of what we define as "value" can seem essentially predatory.

Yes, parents should make sure their kids don’t drink or smoke.

Also Yes, it should be illegal to sell them cigarettes and beer.


Your kids maybe too young to have experienced it, but at some age social media takes over. Even if you put your foot down and don't let your kid have an account or a phone, their friends will post photos of them and tease them. And kids can be really cruel.

Given Facebook has a monopoly in social networks, it's entirely reasonable to hold them to a higher standard and question the impact of new products which use their monopoly power to launch.

100% agree. When they're really young it's almost trivial to control their online habits. But they definitely hit an "age" where peer pressure and the want to fit-in becomes the all consuming incentive to be part of these social media networks. We'd managed to avoid the whole cell phone thing until our son was 13, which was some kind of miracle since I've been seeing cell phones on kids desks as young as 1st grade for years now.

It's definitely an easier said than done scenario.

Social media can just be iMessage though, group chats with friends, I don’t see any thing that a phone can’t do that Facebook can in terms of being required for social life.

Posting of events that you do with your friends or events that happen to you that you want all your friends to see is something you do on Social Media Platforms that will not translate well on Messaging Platforms. If your child were going to Disney world and they wanted their friends to see , they would probably posit it on Snapchat instead of a group chat that I doubt has everyone they interact with on Snapchat (especially if some of their friends have android devices)

A cell phone was basically considered a required item like binders and pens at my kids' school. Rather than ban them, they try to encourage appropriate use.

For example, they encourage the use of the calendar app for tracking assignments and test dates. They use the camera to capture information for homework. Kids have projects that sometimes involves recording audio or shooting video. There's also a twitter-like app that the teacher can use to broadcast to students and students can use to communicate with the teacher.

This is probably one of the few right approaches that can be realistically employed. Everything else is quite utopian and difficult to achieve, unfortunately.

Hopefully they don't force the kids to use services though. I know one class my sister took required the use of facebook which is pretty terrible.

Why aren't parent ready to take responsibility?

Easy to say from an ivory tower.

Not everyone is you. Some people have two jobs. Some people travel a lot. Some people have to take care of sick relatives. Some people have hard jobs that consume a lot of time. Some people are poor. Some people don't have great education. Some people are simply not capable of doing all the things that you do.

It's very SV Bubble to make bad products available and then blame the parents when they damage their children. That's not how a civilized society works. It's why we have a Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Why can Facebook just do the right thing and not target children? Why is Facebook making money more important than everything else in the world?

They do, they vote for politicians to make laws to remove that threat to their childs well being permanently. Why is it fair to privatize the infinite work-load of thwarting attackers, but unfair to centralize the work-load of defence?

There is an enormous difference between some parents going through the effort to healthily manage their kids' screen time, and making the societal default lower screen time for _all_ kids. I could see the former just being incredibly alienating and depressing, as all the other kid's may have access to these things.

My parents often worked 70+ hour weeks just to keep a roof over my head. If they tried to find the time to restrict content from me in the manner you suggest, I may have never become a developer. Every situation is different, so I don't think you should assume your solution is one size fits all.

> I have small kids and nephews, none of them get/will get smartphone till 13-15.

During normal times, they’ll just get it from their friends or schoolmates. Unless you can surveil the kids all the time, this method alone won’t help.

>> Why aren't parent ready to take responsibility?

There are two ways to look at this, imo:

(1) Individual parents. Absolutely agree. If you are one, do your research and limit internet use.

(2) Societally... It's hard. Culture doesn't move as fast as tech does. If SV culture isn't totally caught up, where is the average culture? It's hard because "think totally independently" isn't how people work, at least not all the time. Especially when it comes to parenting, people rely on norms.

Meanwhile, it's hard to control those little Bs.

What kind of society do you want to live in? One where children’s attention can be exploited at the whim of corporations because they happen to have parents that aren’t vigilant enough? Shouldn’t society in the form of it’s government look out for the best interests of its most vulnerable citizens? There are lots of parents who suck and aren’t ready/able to take responsibility as you put it. Shouldn’t we as a whole at least makes some effort to look out for those children born to irresponsible parents?

Nah, survival of the fittest is a family affair.

You seem like a very tech savvy and involved parent. Maybe having the time, energy, and education to be so savvy and involved is a privilege.

Not all parents are users of HN, if anything, we are vast minority.

While perhaps setting parental controls is trying to be simple and parents can get somebody's help with it, the second part like downloading video from youtube and playing it on VLC is way beyond most people. Especially that's not officially supported by YT.

FOMO? Potential social isolation?

I have just a 2yo and a t-6m so I do not have to worry about these things. Yet the way you handle it sounds a bit too strict. You sure that maybe strict limits on screen time and YouTube together with speaking about what they consume would not teach them more?

Everyone's insane so I must be as well. Come on man. I totally agree with the OP, take personal responsibility. You raise your children not Zuck.

Louis CK had great comments about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbYScltf1c

An individual's personal responsibility only goes so far to shape the social norms that your kid will be exposed to. If the thing you don't want your kid doing becomes a norm, then abstaining may come with additional consequences of sizable consequence.

Society is made of individuals. Leave the decision to an individual and the equilibrium of right will be reached quicker. We don't need one huge entity to tell us what's wrong or right. We don't need governments to babysit us.

Let's use an example. Let's say now the norm becomes to allow kids to drink alcohol and smoke weed. Would you allow your kids to do it? Same principles, in my opinion, stand with Instagram or any other tool / toy / gadget.

It's not that easy or simple. Not by a long shot. You might find Eleanor Ostrom's 1990 "Governing the Commons"[1] interesting - it details exactly how individuals can work together to reach "equilibrium" and it doesn't involve governments or selfish (in the economics sense) individuals. She won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for the book and her subsequent related work. The title of course is a play on the title of the classic "Tragedy of the Commons" article advocating for privatization over centralized government oversight. I won't spoil the book but she addresses the "privatize the commons" approach as well. Her conclusions might surprise you.


A lot of parents do give some leeway in letting their kids get away with those things in order to let them fit in. Mostly, the reason kids don't do those things more is exactly because we had the government ban those things for kids.

But, alas, Instagram is not a regulated drug, and I see little reason why most parents' reactions wouldn't be more similar to those they have for video games or watching movies than it would be to the use of an illegal drug.

A more apt comparison might be a parent who doesn't let their kid go to the movies or play video games with their friends.

> Mostly, the reason kids don't do those things more is exactly because we had the government ban those things for kids.

I completely disagree. We don't allow those things because we know kids shouldn't be doing it. If there were no drinking age laws kids would still not be drinking and smoking weed because parents wouldn't allow it. That was kinda my point. (let's not talk about the outliers, obviously some kids smoke and drink)

I'm not sure that underage drinking is an outlier, at least here in the US. In fact, the majority of college students in the US violate drinking age laws.


> If there were no drinking age laws kids would still not be drinking and smoking weed because parents wouldn't allow it.

In places with more relaxed drinking laws, we do often see more kids drinking. 42% of 15 year old boys were weekly drinkers in the UK in 2002.


> Most young people begin using alcohol between the ages of 12 and 16, an age at which they gain increasing independence and spend more time outside the home unsupervised. At the same time, the direct influence of parents diminishes and friends become increasingly important.

You seen the pollution people create left to their own free will?

You sure that your "we do not need governments to babysit us" ideology goes well with the rest of the tread you seemingly agree with?

I was actually asking an honest question. I do not think I'm giving up on my responsibilities. It's just that does serving as a proxy to YouTube really help better than some reasonable weekly limit?

As somebody who was raised similarly to the OP's "sane" way, I would certainly prefer being "insane" to the social isolation I ended up in. Of course, there were countless other factors that made me who I am, but this is still something to consider.

I would refrain from using Louis CK as any sort of a moral compass. For obvious reasons.

He's arguably the greatest comedian of all time. I think there's definitely a thing or two to extract from his wisdom.

So should a person's mistakes be held against them for the rest of their life? Especially given what he did, which seemed very mild compared to the reaction.

I think OPs comment is accurate. He does lose his ability to be used as a moral compass. He might still be funny and have interesting insights but he is not a moral compass.

Hmm I heavily disagree. I think that just because someone did something fucked up in the past doesn't mean they can no longer be trusted or their moral compass/judgement is somehow permanently broken.

Perhaps this is the case for me because what he did wasn't really messed up from what I know about the story, just weird.

I will concede that in some situations, and from my perspective these would almost entire involve sexual assault, I'd consider a person unredeemable.

In a situation where someone has indeed done some fucked up stuff - they need to prove that their moral compass has been fixed in order for them to be trusted again. I don't think you get a pass because you've been quiet for a couple years. So I disagree with you.

You should probably go read up on what he did - pretty messed up power dynamics. (https://www.thecut.com/2018/08/what-about-the-careers-of-lou...)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Peer pressure is real among kids aged 8-22 (yes, that's a huge range but that's what is). You can stop your kids all you want, but then they will find ways to experience what you have deprived them of, and that will be catastrophic for their development and relationships in general. I'd like some child growth specialist to chime in, but I believe this dynamic won't be good as parents are a safe haven for kids and if kids think parents are not letting them have something that all the other kids have, it might affect them longterm.

Imagine if cigarettes were legal for all ages. It might fair to call on both cigarette companies to stop selling to children and also to call on parents to prevent their kids from smoking.

Indeed. It does seem like a defect in parenting. There is no conceivable reason why you can't forbid your kids from using these things (whether they disobey is another matter, but that's life and at least the law has been made known to said progeny; may the punishment begin!). If you can't do that, then frankly, you've got bigger issues as a parent than the inability to forbid the use of these services. Maybe start with those first.

How did they come up with 13yo as the minimal age btw. Is it set globally? I feel like it's itself too low.

In the US it's defined by COPPA. Children's online privacy & protection act

13 is the minimum age you can get some sort of consent to log data and interact with someone in the US (with parents permission I think?) or something like that

Ah. Ok. Here in Czechia we get partial responsibility at the age of 15...

I agree it's too low, but any higher age would be "bad for business"

The ability to more intelligently control access to sites/apps WITHOUT requiring technical competence is critical.

I think Apple and Android offer some fairly powerful tools to manage these things? But I've found that routers, even in 2021, are just trash garbage at offering these kinds of powers.

I'm pretty tech literate, and I have no clue how to get a whitelist-only OS. I don't think it's fair to make every American understand this in order to protect their children from predatory companies.

Most people don't feel they have control over their devices, why would they expect to be able to control their child's?

Seems to me that petitioning Facebook about this is a way of parents taking responsibility for making a better world for their kids.

Everybody should take responsibility, parents first and also Zuckerberg.

Do they have friends? Do those friends have smartphones?

Great way to make the life of your kids absolute hell at school. I feel sorry for them, being isolated from other kids because your parents are crazy is horrible.

Why not 18? You ate not helping anybody here, sorry.

I believe the prevailing view is: instead of deleting Facebook and putting a white list on you home computer, it's way better for congress to enact massive federal legislation.

> none of them get/will get smartphone till 13-15

I had technophobe parents like this. When other kids got technology I had to do without to build character or whatever.

Lesson I learned is that adults are mostly pretty dumb and stubborn. Haven’t seen ‘em in 15 years.

> Why aren't parent ready to take responsibility

Yes, I mean parents should be responsible not to use leaded paint. And parents should be responsible for making sure they don't buy a crib that can suffocate their infant. And parents should be responsible for making sure pajamas are not going to catch on fire. And parents should be responsible for making sure that their kids avoid cigarette ads targeted to kids (like Joe Camel).

With kids, if there is a certain threshold of danger from something, especially if it is being targeted to kids, I think society should regulate (see alcohol and tobacco). I think there is increasing evidence that certain types of social media are harmful to kids.

Most adults are addicted to this trash, imagine how addicting or harmful this shit is for children.

We need to do better.

Instagram is the kind of thing that I really want to like. I like taking pictures, I want to share them with friends, I want to keep up with close friends and whats going on in their lives even when living far away.

But no matter how much work I put in to tailoring my feed, it just shows me half naked people that aren't my friends.

I’m pretty active on Instagram and I don’t do any specific “tailoring” of my feed. I see about 80% fine art, 15% friends posting about their lives, and 5% semi-famous people I chose to follow.

I don’t know what I’m doing right there other than heart-ing stuff I like and only following what interests me.

I’m sure Zuck will destroy it eventually but for now, Insta is the anti-Facebook for me and a source of much positivity.

Maybe do less tailoring? I hope it can be useful for you too.

Maybe I should start a new one and just follow a couple dozen people I like. I think a lot of the issue could be me following hashtags or topics or whatever instagram calls them. For example, if I follow backpacking, the first few posts will be relevant, then it will devolve into people abusing the hashtag system and me seeing content I'm not interested in.

If you follow the right accounts, it will actually turn into a nice experience. Personally I never followed many hashtags, instead I used to follow high quality photography accounts. I believe that a small percentage got sold at some point and turned into trash but the majority of my feed was quite tailored and nice.

May I point out that much of the 'positivity' on Instagram is pretty toxic too. There are people just showing the best parts of life and abusive people re-posting the kindest quotes. It all feels like smoke and mirrors to me.

I see lots of racy advertisements on FB, and I have no idea why. For general privacy reasons, I use FB in a dedicated browser. I do not 'like' companies or products on FB, nor do I follow any celebrities. I don't look at pornography, nor does anyone else at my IP address. Do they just show me this stuff because I'm a man? FB knows I'm married, so I wouldn't think I'd be in the most receptive demographic for this sort of thing. Whenever I check "why did I see this ad?", it always just says they're trying to reach adults in the US. But my wife never gets ads like this, even though they are purportedly ads for racy women's clothing.

I don't use FB much, and stuff like this makes me think I'm doing the right thing (OTOH, I just realized I forgot my good friend's bday yesterday, so I guess it's good for that one thing).

> Do they just show me this stuff because I'm a man?

I'd say yes. I made a fake Facebook account so I could participate in my locale's groups without being doxxed, as I've witnessed a single mother get doxxed by the mayor for disagreeing with his policy. I get shown racy posts and friend suggestions based on the fake demographics I set on the account.

I think your privacy efforts are working against you. You turned of personalized ads and wondering why the ads you are getting aren't personalized.

With nothing else to key off of, you're going to get the bottom of the barrel ads that they cant show to normal people (because there's always a more personalized ad to show them).

Fair point, though Facebook still knows a lot about me based on my friends. Also, I regularly click the ads and say “never show me this ad again”. If given the option, I mark it as inappropriate (which is the closest reason offered).

if you've got Android I recommend getting barinsta, it's on fdroid. just gives you a chronological feed of your friends posts.

Instagram feed only shows you accounts you follow.

Search tab on the other hand shows you any accounts IG thinks are relevant to you.

This makes me question the veracity of your comment, unless you meant the Search tab (and even then it's based on your interaction in the app - if you don't click on half-naked people, the app won't show them to you).

Instagram feed shows you suggested stuff when there's no unseen content. I only follow a few people, if I open Instagram is mostly suggested things

I think the feed also shows ads/"promoted content"? Or that may just be the stories feature. I've had my account deactivated for a few months so I might misremember. Usually the ads I remember did not involve half-naked people, but I think it's a subjective measure, and so influencers' promoted content could be racier to some than others.

Yes, we need better parents who take responsibility instead of whining and putting blame on others.

There is no whining or any assignment of blame in the letter. It is a very cogently worded request to refrain from adapting a purpose-built app meant to drive engagement at all cost (Instagram) for kids under 13.

Of course there is a political play here: if this group gets Zuckerberg to back down and admit his product might not be good for people under 13, then an argument can be made against Instagram as a whole. Perhaps you disagree with that point?

Isn't it a false dichotomy? Can't we hope for parents to be more involved and also push for companies to act in a more socially responsible way?

Yes, this sh*t must stop infecting our children.

But in current conditions, sadly this trash will continue to harm our children if parents as well as those big tech companies don't tackle the problem seriously. It's sad that even they promote or allow it directly or indirectly.

Fortunately there are parents aware about this flagellum and it's harmful impact in the society, specially in our young people. And they don't allow that this happens to their children.

I'm tech savvy, raised my kids internet liberal, gave them lots of freedom and educated them so they could protect themselves without adult supervision. Training to cope with unexpected situations is far more important than withholding them from exposure because you won't be there when it eventually does happen. They are now very literate and use those skills to get the best out of university.

With all their experience and knowledge, they are now warning me: "Dad, facebook/instagram has become a toxic cesspool that isn't fun anymore and should be avoided at all cost!!"

If that isn't a signal to protect youngsters...

That's interesting. Do you mind elaborating how did you achieve that. You idea sounds good in theory but I can't think of effective ways to implement that. Trust is easy to break when they are fighting against the addictive strategies applied by the zuckerbergs of the world

It’s true and yet you may not realize how much privacy you gave up for the lessons.

Perhaps a lesson in how to use a firewall first. :-D

On similar note, schools should not send kids to Youtube to complete their assignments.

Yes but YouTube is similarly such a good resource for learning that avoiding it does a disservice. I've seen the best explanations for topics that I struggled to understand at the time and they were explained so well that teachers should learn from it to.

With YouTube the answer is moderation and it has to be taught by parents, by education institutions and so on. This is also valid for grown ups. One can look for information on YouTube but veer onto temptation's path and sink a lot of time that gets taken from something else. But a bit of meandering into wherever it takes us and in moderation is great for discovering new things.

> YouTube is similarly such a good resource for learning

Given the insistence on being "a platform not a publisher", isn't that a bit like claiming that "content written on paper is a good resource for learning"?

Only if there was one primary source for paper. No numbers, but it wouldn't surprise me if YouTube had orders of magnitude more video than all other video sites together.

> it wouldn't surprise me if YouTube had orders of magnitude more video than all other video sites together

How about quality vs. quantity?

If you wanted to recommend a video platform with video content where all of it is suitable for under-18s would you really pick YouTube?

(Full disclosure: I have three under-18 kids)

I wouldn't pick YouTube. It's about signal-to-noise.

Just an aside: a random video of some random person unwrapping something random that happens to be fascinating to small kids ... keeping them glued to the screen, and quiet... is not good content

Im not saying the quality ratio is higher on youtube, there’s a lot more garbage for sure. But it has become a central hub in a way, you search for something and it’s likely you’ll find it. Second, the content creator niche has grown and went up a notch. There are a lot of self made great and professionally made channels on youtube. Im sure there are a lot more fantastic educational resources outside youtube but youtube is pretty good if you know what you’re looking for

Given a specific focus, you only need a few good videos from YT.

For example, perhaps you are using Khan Academy with your kids. Then you augment it with one other lecture series. You're not going to augment that with yet another lecture series on the same subject, are you?

Kids don't need access to the whole cultural tapestry that is YT, they only need guidance as to the highest quality resources.

I agree, that is true. But I think kids should not be completely be shielded from that tapestry. They should know what crap is shouldn't they? There is time for kids to be gullible and learn to fend for themselves.

Teachers can learn how to use youtube-dl.

This is such a HN comment

It’s missing the obligatory “then throw it on a FTP server for the users to access, it’s not that hard to secure”.

These days we would throw it on a web server and provide the URL to the students.

Expecting students to waste time sitting through Google ads and tracking at school is insane to me.

Peertube, anyone?

It's 2021. It's really not that hard to secure these days.

Yours is also a very HN comment these days.

Teachers should just roll their own video upload site.

Nearly every school (in the US anyway) has some sort of online portal that kids log into to complete or submit assignments that can be used to embed or host videos.

my daughter's (kindergarten) assignments are embedded youtube videos. There's also "suggested videos" after they play that can send her down a rabbit hole if we aren't watching (we have two toddlers as well so attention is divided).

YouTube used to have a configuration variable in the embedded player to disable these end of video suggestions. Then they chose to stop respecting the variable. Then they started flooding all videos with ads.

> my daughter's (kindergarten) assignments are embedded youtube videos

My seven year old has Youtube blocked on the computer he uses, we saw too many rabbit holes so that was that.

He wants content, he comes to me, I youtube-dl it, he has VLC

It's content from the school, on a tablet owned by the school that I have no administrative control of. Besides changing schools, I don't see many options.

This is completely missing the point. The teacher is doing the moderation and curating a curriculum. Youtube is simply the medium by which they are sharing the video which contains the content.

YouTube is the most convenient solution to upload because of he simplicity of uploading since it is integrated into pretty much every hardware device.

This idea that parents now need to be moderating YouTube is asnine. Most are struggling to simply help their kids do their math homework and now we are going to require them to moderate google??

Right now the tech companies have more information on what my kids are viewing than me, unless we want a world where parents are literally approving every single thing that reaches their eyeballs, let's hold the platforms a accountable for what they are serving up.

Youtube is designed to extend engagement beyond the intended initial video the user wanted to view.

Beyond a basic rating system with parental controls, the algorithm does not care if the videos are inappropriate for children. Given enough time with a child, the algorithm will lead them down a rabbit hole where they eventually reach strange videos portraying their favorite fictional characters in vaguely sexualized situations, or videos containing anti-science propaganda and/or promotion of harmful conspiracy theories.

Allowing young children to use YouTube unsupervised is demonstrably a bad idea.

And god forbid they will see some nipple.

Take a step back and pretend you belong to society.

Try explaining what you just explained to the average parent.

You are also qualifying "Young" "children". Doesn't the definition of children mean young human, so what are you communicating here?

in the real world, we have this thing where a teacher can upload an education video using two clicks of an iPhone and as you said, this uncorks pandora's box of goodies for kids.

>Given enough time with a child, the algorithm will lead them down a rabbit hole where they eventually reach strange videos portraying their favorite fictional characters in vaguely sexualized situations, or videos containing anti-science propaganda and/or promotion of harmful conspiracy theories.

What a fantastic addition to human society! Let's leave it to the parents to sort this shit out.

Youtube business model is to make money of playing ads to it's viewers. Recent changes to Terms of Service allows Youtube to inject ads to content that has none.

Before kids get to their assigned video they have to often watch an ad for a game or a service. Sometimes multiple ads play throughout.

Also, at the end of the video kids get enticed to watch more videos that Youtube wants them to see (not the teacher or parent) - in order to play more ads.

Most of the time it's as a result of the kid getting to their class the first time, realizing the teacher is garbage, and realizing "oh I have to teach myself all this crap" as the load up videos from extremely talented indians about calculus...

Sounds like a market opportunity for something like OCW but pre-college.

Could even feature some YouTube content that's vetted by teachers, re-uploaded and properly monetized of course. Uploads being ultimately restricted to teachers holding credentials and peer-moderated.

... Why?

Everyone is a great parent until they have kids.

That's one of my favorite phrases and it always comes to mind strongly when stories like this pop up on tech-heavy sites like HN.

Seems more like an issue for parents to manage.

It's hard to control what teenagers do, but young children simply don't have the resources and opportunity to do things their parents don't permit them to do.

Ok, but for the parents who are unable or who mismanage this, we all end up paying for this collectively as a society. No, things that harm people need to be kept a very close eye onto. Gambling is regulated to some extend and it still attracts the weak willed people but at least children are not allowed in. Instagram for kids is a similar thing, it captures all the attention of children for profit, it primes these kids to be superficial and instills a consumerist behavior creates only problems down the line, we can't ignore these things or we will live in a sicker society. It is never perfect but we should strive to at least head in that direction. This is my opinion at least.

That doesn't seem true. What if this were drugs? "Just leave that to the parents, don't force people to stop selling to kids"?

These days many kids have cell phones. For better or worse, that's what parents are doing. I don't know why, I'm not a parent and I don't know any children, but I know that as a young kid a cell phone allowed me to walk home alone or with another kid at an early age, so I can imagine justifications.

Anyway, I don't see why this should be on parents to manage, or how that would be effective.

> These days many kids have cell phones. For better or worse, that's what parents are doing. I don't know why, I'm not a parent and I don't know any children, but I know that as a young kid a cell phone allowed me to walk home alone or with another kid at an early age, so I can imagine justifications.

Our 11-year old travels to school on the train. Last week he set off to school on a day that (thanks to Covid19) he was supposed to be doing "home schooling" (there's a rather crazy timetable, he's got two [different!] days each week in school, three days at week home-schooling). So, we called him on his cell phone : "get off the train as soon as you can, we'll come and pick you up, you need to get back home ASAP"

In the good old days he'd have been blissfully unaware of his(our) mistake until arriving at school, at which point he'd have asked an adult for help, and would (probably) come home by himself.

I'm not convinced that kids carrying cellphones around is a net benefit, but here we are...

Seems much easier to control, influence, and parent your children than to make other people stop selling drugs. The USA has been losing a war on drugs for decades.

But we're not talking about making something illegal, this is a plea to not create a service specifically for children.

Which means the people on drugs are winning.

You seriously think parents aren't trying to stop their kids from doing drugs too? No, they do both. What planet are you from?

Or poison, cigarettes, alcohol, porn, fast food…

There are a host of things parents have the responsibility of shielding their kids from. Trying to cancel out harms in the world is futile.

Those are mostly examples of things that are _not_ the exclusive responsibility of parents. For example, selling alcohol to children (at least here in the UK) is a criminal offence, not something you can just say "well it's the parents' fault for not stopping them coming into my shop to buy". Pre-internet, that was even true of porn. They seem to support the opposite point than you make in your second paragraph.

A lot of people keep alcohol, poisons, guns, knives, etc in the house. It is the parents job to ensure their kids don’t have access to these things. You’re a bad parent if you don’t prevent your kids from harming themselves.

If poison, cigarettes, alcohol and porn were explicitly marketed towards children, you'd have a point there.

Note that cigarettes and alcohol were both implicitly and explicitly marketed towards children in the past until governments stepped in and there have been steps to attempt to crack down on fast food.

> Trying to cancel out harms in the world is futile.

You missed the word "all" there but I don't see how that statement is relevant when discussing one specific new harm which we can literally cancel out before it sees the light of day.

Cigarettes, alcohol, and porn is actually regulated. In the US alcohol is even so tightly regulated that they bind infrastructure budgets to the legal drinking age of 21.

It's so highly regulated in some parts of the US that certain types of alcohol are sold exclusively by the government.

Are you going to be launching cigarettes for kids tomorrow?

I didn’t realize this was a totally separate product. I’m mixed in that probably many kids are already using Instagram as is… I guess I go back to parent responsibility (although we probably all lose through the tragedy of the commons).

So that's a yes?

You mean like Juul?

>Seems more like an issue for parents to manage.

No, it seems like zuckerberg should justify why this needs to exist. There doesn't need to be an Instagram for children. What benefit to children get by having an Instagram. Why should this now be an issue for parents because zuck figured he could monetize children?

In a free society, you don't need to justify why something needs to exist.

There are so many things that need justification for safety reasons. All the 18+ stuff comes to mind, most notably slot machines.

Even in a free society.

Yeah and horses trampled over kids all the time. Justification enough is that the kids should've known better

"free" like in the "regulations are harmful" way?

"free" like not guilty until proven otherwise

More of a "free" like in "you are free to behave immorally"

That principle exists in a domain where you've already been alleged of wrongdoing established by a given set of laws, it just means the allegation isn't also the warrant for guilt, as in a witch trial. It wasn't meant to hand-waive away any kind of collective speculative concern

The open letter cites plenty of sources explaining why the product would be harmful to children. Convictions are made on less evidence than this.

Eating disorders at even a younger age! Coming to a child near you.

That could go along the same line as "an issue for parents to manage". Facebook shouldn't be creating an "Instagram for children", it's up to the parents to manage and monitor their children's internet usage.

> it's up to the parents to manage and monitor their children's internet usage

I'm happy to block/ban internet usage for my kids, can we presume you happy for those in power to legislate that no school can set kids any homework that requires the internet/youtube to complete?

Yeah, if their schoolwork requires Internet/YouTube then the school should be providing access to it.

>justify why this needs to exist wtf justify why you need to exist. if people want something, others will provide it. if kids don't like it then they wont have it

Even he did add an age restriction, why wouldn't kids just put in a fake birthday?

We should compare and contrast to other engagement mediums designed for children; i.e. Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, PBS Kids, Amazon Fire Kid's edition, etc.

For these, excepting PBS I think, monetary motivation is the same. More engagement equals more opportunity to show 'Baby Bottle Pop commercials'.

One major difference is gov't regulation over open airwaves (in America at least). There is no regulation in the app/product domain. Amazon Fire and Instagram are bound to whatever company moderation policies are in place at Amazon and FB (and App store moderation at Apple/Google).

Great, yet another communication channel kids need to be "parented" away from at the potential cost of social isolation. It must be wearying for parents.

Kids are resilient, but I imagine many parents don't like the thought of their kid missing out on context/social interaction because the lazy-parents kids let them do whatever they want.

> the lazy-parents kids let them do whatever they want

One of the kids in our 11-year-old's class lost it in the class WhatsApp group last week, hurled any and all terms of abuse you can think of. So our 11-year-old left the group as did many of his friends, and that got reported to the school.

Who thinks an 11 year old can understand that saying stuff online could potentially destroy your career several decades hence if someone made a screenshot?

I'd happily enforce a minimum age 18 for use of social media.

> Kids are resilient, but I imagine many parents don't like the thought of their kid missing out on context/social interaction because the lazy-parents kids let them do whatever they want.

(I mentioned what this was like for me growing up.)

Would encourage people to share some alternative paths to not being excluded socially. There's always a way around these platforms, but as a shy kid I never would've found them without a bit of guidance.

You are making the bold assumption that all parents are knowledgeable enough or give a shit enough to keep their kids off of social media.

The kids are ultimately the ones who suffer so why not just prevent the problem at the root cause by disallowing Instagram for kids.

parents cannot fight multibillion dollar tech companies trying their damndest to get to their kids alone. it's a one-sided fight.

> Seems more like an issue for parents to manage.

No, if something is harmful and addictive it should be regulated, parents or not.

Instagram should not be free to get away with addicting children to social media because some parents are not as attentive as they should be. Children should be legally protected from this predatory behaviour by tech ogilarchs looking to embed themselves into the behaviour of young children.

Why not a kid's gambling site? I mean, it seems like an issue for parents to manage. Children don't have the resources so it shouldn't be regulated, right?

It's predatory, and should be regulated, and heavily punished.

And cigarette companies should be allowed to advertise to children.

Free capitalism is sacred and parents are the only ones who should care about the wellbeing of their children. Society doesn't exist and no one is responsible for the wellbeing of anyone else beyond their own nuclear family.

I am deeply uncomfortable with the implicit premise that children are so different from adults that they should be totally segregated from adults in padded rooms, and furthermore that this is so important that even their parents shouldn't be able to override this concern. In order to make a platform that avoids COPPA, facebook will need to ask for the parents consent. As part of this, they will likely give the parents some degree of insight and control over how their children are interacting with the platform. In my view, this makes nearly any negative part of the platform permissible. Children are expected to develop into adults; the only way this can happen is if we allow them to be exposed to the world of adults. Different parents will be comfortable giving their children different breadth in this regard. I really don't think one parent should be dictating to another how to raise their children. By construction, instagram for children will allow the signatory parents to totally opt-out. That ought to be sufficient.

Steve Jobs didnt allow his kids to use Ipad & Iphone, pretty sure, Zuck doesn't allow his kids on social media.

Steve didnt even acknowledge one of his kids existed for years.

I'm reminded of this article from 2011 about Silicon Valley executives who send their kids to their local Waldorf School...Where tech is forbidden. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-sch...

Did you hear something? It sounded like a cash register opening and closing. Kinda like "ch-ching, ch-ching".

No, no - I heard more like a slot machine jackpot. Sorta "Ding-a-ding, ling-ling-dong-ding-ding."


.. how is the alleged instagram for children going to circumvent COPPA? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Online_Privacy_Pr...

COPPA allows children until 13 to share personal info. They just need a parent's permission to do so.

This is written by some out of touch people. Sooner or later children (along with adults) are going to live most of their social lives in some non-physical form. Doesn't matter of it's on a computer, phone or VR, wearable or something else we haven't come up with yet. It might be instagram or snap or tiktok or something else. What it DEFINITELY will not be is the physical world. You lost that fight already. Maybe some rich parents will be able to spend a huge amount of money to craft a childhood that is physical first but for the majority of children, that will be out of reach.

And rightly so - children are just mimicking what the adults around them are doing. The parents are socializing, working and finding dates on their phones. It's just a better and more efficient way or doing something. When those children grow up they will have to navigate that same world. Is it a better experience overall? Probably not. Will killing instagram for children make a difference in the long term? No way.

What a waste of (digital) paper this pdf is.

Does that mean we are required to cede that experience to an exploitative megacorp?

Did you see all the signatories? They seem to be wildly in-touch with the subject. You think all those experts in the field are misled?

Exactly, social media has become important part of modern world, It has it good and bad. It important not to completely detach them from social media but rather teach them how to deal/manage social media, especially from early age.

When they grow up they will have to deal with this, teaching them the skill on how to navigate social media will be beneficial.

I'm feeling super pessimistic about this. The amount of brand recognition and power that Instagram holds over twenty-somethings is insane, and it seems like a given that they're here to stay.

I actually like VSCO a lot more than Instagram because it doesn't display follow counts, and there's no concept of likes. All in all, a much better experience and a lot less addictive. I just wish you had the option to go private, since I really don't like the idea of not knowing whos viewing my photos.

There were open source social network solutions, feels like that would fit perfectly there. Because you deploy it, you have full control who is using it.

I never used any of them, so I'm wondering if they still exist.

What about Tiktok?

Yeah, thought the same, this train left already the station.

There is no incentive for Zuckerberg to ever stop it. Plus, there is no realistic way for Instagram to really check for age. Unless they start asking for a government ID,which might drive more people off their platform as they look for anonymity on social media.

I think you misunderstood the letter: they aren’t complaining about Instagram specifically, they are complaining about a proposed version of Instagram designed for kids under 13. So your comment seems basically irrelevant to the matter - they aren’t asking him to change Instagram, they are asking him to cancel a product that hasn’t been launched yet.

I think the comment you are responding to is addressing use of normal Instagram by kids under 13, which is something the letter also discusses.

Youtube started asking me for my passport and/or credit card to confirm my age 2 weeks ago for any age restricted videos, it's definitely doable

Mind if I ask where are you based?



If FB reassures the new IG-K is safe for kids, then many parents are probably going to trust that this is true. Now their kids will be subject to all the puke that is on Instagram, pedos will target it for grooming since the audience is specifically children. Kids will be subject to all the monetization efforts FB can throw at them. I imagine kids would also stress about competing with their friend's popularity and all of the other ugly shit grown ups subject themselves to when they obsess over IG.

Dunno how it works in the US, but in Brazil there are plenty of "influencer" children accounts on IG and they already are dealing with IG obsession and whatnot. Knowing that, I figure IG is trying to isolate kids in a sub-site.

Does that address the problem, or merely change the window dressing?

> Unless they start asking for a government ID,

Instagram started asking some accounts for ID 8 months ago.


Facebook has asked for ID for years now.

Don't they already do this if they don't think your profile looks legit?

You can't argue with greed using rationality. Dear Zuckerberg needs Federal law that breaks down his company into tiny pieces. I don't think "urging" is useful here.

Schools have no business giving instruction on modern web literacy given that doing so correctly requires cultivating in kids an inflexibly adversarial mindset towards all the services they will use.

Good luck. FB and Zuckerberg care about nothing other than profit. Eg. check the privacy notices in ios.

"Commercial free childhood"

Every comment here seems to be around social medial. That doesn't seem to be their ploy. They object to commercials.

Did everyone else here have a different childhood? I'm 40+ and i've been bombarded by commercials since I can remember. How is Facebook the biggest offender and not

- Video Shows (TV/Streaming/Insert anything that needs sponsorship)

- Any Visual media

- Food

- Toys

- insert anything that is sold.

I'm not seeing anything here except go after "big target we don't like based on things we think are right" were all of these are very subjective...

For X sake... the US has an obesity crisis, and we are worrying about screen time?...

Because Facebook, along with Google, are modern day Robber Barons of Surveillance Capitalism. They monitor behavior and use that information to target ads.

Sure, cereal companies know that big boxes with cute characters at kid-height sells sugar pops. But Facebook knows every like, every friend request, every post, every message... check-ins at businesses. They combine the social anxiety of adolescence with advertising. It’s sick. Adults are easily manipulated. Children even more so.

And when you bring up those other advertisement pathways: they’re manipulative too!

It seems odd to me that the same thing we regard as inherently harmful to children is simultaneously regarded as a necessary human right for adults.

Thanks god I work from home now and I don't have to see half of the train purposelessly scrolling through Instagram.

Good luck with the letter. It's hard to convince someone who's certain that they already know everything.

Also Zuckerberg can you please disable geotags for ecological reserves?

What what?

> commercialfreechildhood.org

commercialfreelife@localhost :)

Now lets get rid of all ads in public spaces.

It's the same if you ask "Please cancel kids being silly". Kids will always find bad things to do.

With this reasoning you would never forbid e.g. hard drugs for kids, or child labor. Kids will always bad things to do, after all.

Why would Instagram be appealing to children?

Instagram is mostly used by young adults trying to build their social status through a curated (manipulated) image of their lives.

I don't see how it would appeal to children.

It's popular. If everyone else has it, that means you are missing out if you don't. As a child, saying "No sorry, I'm not on instagram" means they're a social outcast in their heads. Of course, no one actually cares, but social interactions matter a lot at that age.

Edit to add: A lot of teachers are also trying to be hip and cool. Three times in the past year I have been assigned "tiktok" assignments where I either had to record a tiktok or watch a tiktok. Of course there were other options that I took, but if some kid doesn't have it simply because they don't care, not out of privacy reasons, they'd probably download and start using it regularly after thinking a grade rides on it.

That's another thing: I am 100% serious when I say that my peers are addicted to tiktok. I know people who regularly spend 6+ hours a day just scrolling through it. In fact, I don't know anyone who doesn't spend at least 2 hours daily on it. I don't think any other social media comes close to it in addictiveness. It is literally almost everyone I know, even tangentially.

A few years ago, I heard a couple of kids on the bus singing songs about how they’re going to be big on Instagram. It stuck with me as one of those things about how kids observe the world versus how I observed it as a kid.

So to answer your question, I don’t know how it would be appealing, but I think they find it appealing anyway independent of whether we know why, so it’s probably worth revisiting your priors.

I could be wrong, but I think a “whoosh” applies here.

Children like emulating adults and "older kids"

Why parents who think so can't just ask kids not to go to instagram? So dumb.

Your comment enrages me. Parenting is a full time battle against both the will of your children and the marketing spend of billion dollar companies. I worry myself sick and drive myself to exhaustion trying to raise sane and happy children, pouring my entire resources in to this battle and you think I should just tell my kids not to do something and problem solved? You think that counts for anything against the billion dollar marketing budget? The team of experts whose only job is to make my kids rebel against my wishes?

This post contained no profanity, but that is only because of Hacker News’ general policy of civil discussion. I’m. Furious.

I do empathise, but only because I remember how things were for me as a kid (just as FB was rising to prominence). My parents did not let me on the site until I was 13, but pretty much everyone else was there since at least the middle of primary school.

I was really introverted and socially awkward at that age, so I found it difficult to be excluded in this way. When I did finally get access to social platforms in general, my social wellbeing was an order of magnitude better, started making more friends, not being left out of events because I didn't have an account (this happened even with some family as well). Until then I would never hear about things until right before they were happening, and people asked if I was going.

So while FB is an overgrown monster today, it's far more than large marketing departments gone mad. There is a real social cost to not being on these platforms.

(Also, good on you for not giving in. Because regardless of how I felt at the time, I'm glad my parents did force me to wait. It's probably not healthy to plug children into gigantic ML manipulation engines.)

For every one of you, I bet there are there ten others (myself included) who would hear about parties, see other friends make plans with each other, and realize where they stood on the social order. Maybe I am a half decade older than you (FB started when I was in college) but the day I got off of it, my close friends got closer and my FB friends lost all of their allocated memory

This wasn't a case of being ignorant of the social hierarchy. It was about technology being able to pull me out of my introverted shell. Things got much better as I grew up.

>technology being able to pull me out of my introverted shell

Hey we have that in common, but maybe because we get to work with like-minded people in tech, not social media haha

Thank you.

Parenting is really about saying « no » everyday to the person you love the most on this universe when he deeply want something, while knowing you would have want it either, really wanting to say « yes » because you want him to be the happiest person on the world but knowing, as a boring adult, that you must say no.

And if you want to succeed, you have to explain why.

And you have to do that everyday.

And I have to admit that you probably have more interesting topics to discuss with your 9yo than explaining what’s wrong with social médias and its dangers, and why you won’t change your mind even if all his friends already are on Instakids.

It’s not that the the topic is not interesting to discuss with your child, it’s that at 9yo, they just don’t care about it. And they shouldn’t even have to care, because a 9yo have really, really more interesting things to live than being on Instakids.

Zuckerberg is forcing every parent on this planet to have this useless, meaningless and boring conversation just because he want to spy children with the hope of selling them some Coca-Cola. That’s another proof of his total absence of ethical limits.

What do you think is a bigger problem for your children, Instagram or the fact that they have a parent who becomes absolutely furious in reaction to a pretty harmless Internet comment, using language like "I worry myself sick and drive myself to exhaustion" and "make my kids rebel against my wishes"?

I used the Internet however I pleased when I was a kid and I turned out fine. Maybe you should just let your kids use the Internet however they please rather than trying to control it.

Sorry, parent comment was unkind of me. I was just adding anger on top of anger. Time for editing the comment has expired, though.

I am sensitive around ideas of censoring kids because I tend to be passionately against censorship in most cases and I turned out fine despite not having had relatives try to control my access to information for the most part.

My friend, thank you. I was angry, and perhaps unjustly. We need passionate advocates for children. I was, too angrily, advocating for the parents. Let’s go together into a better future.

(I’ve been drinking Prosecco)

Cheers! Thanks for understanding.

>Let’s go together into a better future.


>> The team of experts whose only job is to make my kids rebel against my wishes

It's sad that today a team like that includes companies with a billion dollar marketing budget. When I was a kid it was just punk rockers.

It's infuriating when the argument is that "cancelling" this app would infringe on children's (and parents'?) rights while also the proposed alternative implicitly boils down to invading your child's privacy via surveillance software.

So if your child ends up on Instagram Kids to their detriment it's because you failed as a parent but to take measures to actively prevent that you need to also fail. And this for an issue that doesn't even have to exist and we (well, Zuckerberg) can just decide not to create.

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