Vermont’s attorney general is among those taking on Facebook

Local News

Vermont’s attorney general is among those taking on Facebook in particular, the social media giant’s plans for an app, Instagram for kids.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan said he is concerned that this app for kids could affect children’s mental well being. Vermont’s Attorney General sent Facebook a letter to voice his concern, asking them to not create the Instagram for kids app. 

“The emotional and mental health impact is real harm and we have to be willing to stand up for our kids and say this is not a good idea,” Donovan said. 

Now Facebook says it’s hitting the pause button on creating the app. But the attorney general said Facebook needs to go further.

“I am not sure kids know how to navigate the meaning of privacy for a thirteen or fourteen year old,” Donovan said. “In fact kids even younger than that getting on social media.” 

This week Facebook was front and center on Capitol Hill. Some senators believe the company ignored data that showed it harms children’s mental health. 

Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis had a different opinion. 

“This research is not causal research,” Davis said. “It’s what teens said about their experiences.” 

Data shows people take multiple pictures of themselves before finding the perfect one to post, this creates a false impression especially for young children. 

“And so it is a really curated reality that is posted on the internet,” Dr. Jeremiah Dickerson, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at UVMMC said. “It gives people a false sense of reality of that person’s life.” 

The reality is that this could be taking a toll on young people. Dr. Dickerson believes pre-adolescents are especially vulnerable. 

“Having that tendency to be driven towards perfection can be associated with an increased risk of developing issues related with eating and anxiety,” Dr. Dickerson said. “It can affect your peer relationships and academic performance as well.” 

Dr. Dickerson said it’s important to be aware of how much time your child is spending on their social media apps. Attorney General Donovan follows that advice and said he limits the amount of time his children spend on social media.

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