Why Instagram is spending millions to target your 13-year-old

How does Big Tech really see your child? As a fledgling digital citizen to be nurtured?  Or a pipeline to ever-greater profits?

To prevent children - aka future revenue - from defecting to a competing app, Instagram has been stalking the teen market like a digital sheep in wolf’s clothing, according to internal documents released this week. The unsuspecting target? “Early high school-ers” - classified as 13- to 15-year-olds.

Why this age group? Because it represents the major conduit to Instagram’s parent, Facebook, whose ageing user base has been a major concern for the company’s future profitability. Instagram, the thinking goes, is like the training wheels. Facebook is the racing bike.

“If we lose the teen foothold,” read a 2020 Instagram strategy memo, “we lose the pipeline.”

According to the most recent surveys, only 22% of teens say Instagram is their number-one social media platform - trailing both Snapchat (which Facebook tried and failed to acquire in 2013) and TikTok.

Worries about the slow but steady leakage of kids’ engagement, Instagram executives slated nearly its entire global marketing budget to luring them back.

If we lose the teen foothold,” read a 2020 Instagram strategy memo, “we lose the pipeline.”

The average time teens spent on Instagram during the pandemic was three to four hours. That represented a 200% bump over pre-COVID usage. But more recently, with restrictions lifting, classrooms re-opening and “teen time spent” declining, company executives have been panicking. 


Desperate to retain and grow young users, whose attention is notoriously fickle, the company has scrambled to re-assert its dominance, pouring millions into digital ads aimed squarely at hitting teen targets. 

The disclosures could not have come at a worse time for the company. Last month, the Wall Street Journal published a bombshell investigation revealing Facebook has long known that Instagram poses a serious mental health risk to vulnerable teen girls.

And former manager turned whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before the US Senate that the company deliberately engineered the platform to create compulsive use by kids. 

Undeterred, Instagram head Adam Mosseri’s vision statement for the company described the app as “a place where young people define themselves and future,” adding that “young people and creators are at the forefront of emerging culture, which is where Instagram plays.” 

Last month, under unrelenting public pressure, Instagram paused its work on a version of the app targeting kids under 13. But Mosseri has insisted that “building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do” and has promised a service featuring safety measures and content geared to tweens aged 10-12.

“The reality,” he said, “is that kids are already online.”


Family Zone can safeguard your digital kids on every device, everywhere. 

Create a home where children thrive - online and off - and start your free trial today.




Tell me more!

Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online safety, instagram, Instagram for kids

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | teens on social media
    Can we talk? 100 questions your teen might actually answer
    Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
    MOMO unmasked
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents need to know about this popular gaming platform
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | tinder | Cyber Experts | parenting | yellow
    Yellow: The Tinder for Teens
    Parental Controls | Social Media | privacy | decoy app
    Hide It Pro: A decoy app to look out for
    Cyber Bullying | Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | online predators | tiktok | paedophile | child predator | Likee
    LIKEE: What parents need to know about this risky TikTok wannabe

    Recent posts

    Press the reset button on your kid’s online routine

    COVID blew up our teens’ screen-time. It’s time to get them back on track. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, our children are facing a ...

    Bigger families face super-sized screen-time challenges

    If you have more than one child - and statistics show 86 percent of families do - then managing screen-time can be double trouble. Or ...

    'Bigorexia' a growing risk for today's boys

    We’re starting to understand how social media can damage girls’ self-esteem - but what about our boys? New research finds disturbing ...

    The metaverse: Brave new world - or an upgrade for predators?

    Mixing kids and adult strangers in a self-moderated online environment ... What could possibly go wrong?