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Instagram and teens: How to keep your kids safe

Instagram and Adolescents: How to Keep Your Children Safe

But times have changed, and online privacy is no longer the only concern when it comes to kids being online. There's bullying, harassment, and, as Facebook's own research has shown, the risk of developing eating disorders, suicidal thoughts or worse.

In her testimony, Haugen suggested raising the age limit to 16 or even 18. There has been a push among some parents, educators and tech experts to wait to give children phones — and access to social media — until they are older, such as the "Wait Until 8th" pledge that has parents sign a pledge not to give their kids a smartphone until the 8th grade. But neither social media companies nor the government have done anything concrete to increase the age limit.

"There is not necessarily a magical age," said Christine Elgersma, a social media expert at the nonprofit Common Sense Media. But, she added, "13 is probably not the best age for kids to get on social media."

It's still complicated. There's no reliable way to verify a person's age when they sign up for apps and online services. And the apps popular with teens today were created for adults first. Companies have added some safeguards over the years, Elgersma noted, but these are piecemeal changes, not fundamental rethinks of the services.

Facebook and instagram captions

"Developers need to start building apps with kids in mind," she said. And no, she doesn't mean Instagram Kids, the project Facebook paused last week amid a widespread backlash. 

"We can't trust a company that didn't start with kids' best interests in mind," she said.