MANSFIELD – The state’s top law enforcement official has said parents should put on their “parental pants” and agree to invade their children’s privacy.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, in an exclusive interview with Richland Source, made a strong suggestion ahead of Facebook’s inevitable exit of Instagram Youth.
The application is developed for children under 13 years old. Yost, a Republican from Columbus, said the application could jeopardize the work of parents to protect their children.
Yost joined 43 other attorneys general in signing a May letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook owns Instagram.
The letter said, in part, that social media “can be harmful to the physical, emotional and mental well-being of children. … Facebook has a habit of failing to protect the safety and privacy of children on its platform, despite claims that its products are subject to strict privacy controls.
Zuckerberg did not respond to the letter in any “substantial way,” Yost said.
Instead, Facebook announced in July that it would go ahead with the creation of the app. Another ad described the updated security measures on Instagram.
One of these measures is to set the accounts of users under the age of 16 to private by default. Instagram said the move would limit interactions with strangers. It would also limit the way advertisers target young people.
In a July interview with the Breakfast Club radio show, Instagram director Adam Mosseri said he knew the children’s version of the app would be controversial. But he still thinks it would be a “healthier, safer place” for the kids.
Facebook has yet to reveal when it will launch Instagram Youth.
Facebook first developed a child-friendly version of one of its services in 2017 with Messenger Kids. The messaging app is for users aged 6 to 12.
Yost predicted lawsuits against parents in the decades to come for “failing to supervise their child in virtual space.” He said he would not rule out legal action based on the Instagram Youth final product.
“The virtual world is full of dangers for (children’s) development and even for their physical safety. You, as a parent, have an obligation to know why they are using these devices, who they are interacting with, what they are doing, ”he said.
In the meantime, he said parents should use parental controls on devices and use apps that monitor a child’s activity on devices and apps. Parents should also consider purchasing phones that are designed to be “child safe”.
“Your job is to protect them,” Yost said, addressing the parents. “It’s not to be their best friend.”