By: Katherine Barfield
On March 18, 2021, Buzzfeed obtained an internal memo from Facebook stating that Facebook plans to launch a version of Instagram for Kids under 13. This came two days after Instagram published a blog post called “Continuing to Make Instagram Safer for the Youngest Members of Our Community” which addressed bullying, adult predators, and verifying users’ ages.
In response to the announcement, CMA member Danny LaBrecque launched a web series called, Cookies For Breakfast. His goal is to start, deepen and broaden critical conversations around young children and pervasive technology, today and beyond. To that end, he’s interviewed trusted voices in the field of children’s media (past and present) and early childhood development.
As of this writing, Danny has released six episodes. Guests include: Carey Stinson, “The man inside the suit” who brought Barney to life, Carly Ciarrocchi, host of Sprout’s Sunny Side Up, and Weird but True on Disney+, and Dr. Scott Samson, “Dr. Scott the paleontologist” on Dinosaur Train. Each guest brings a wealth of information guided by thoughtful questions from Danny.
Depending on the guest, interviews branch off into related topics. For example, Dr. Scott Sampson quotes statistics on “screen time vs green time” and its effect on physical health. (Green time is time spent outdoors.) Carey Stinson, who played Barney for over 20 years, talked about getting the role of Barney at 23, and how that made him “grow up fast” because he saw the weight of responsibility with so many children looking up to him. The series often touches on the responsibility of kids’ media professionals as caregivers on the “other side of the screen.”
The core of Cookies for Breakfast is a genuine care for the wellbeing of children. Danny started an episode with a story: one morning, running late, he grabbed an apple. At school, he tried to sneak a bite, but turned around to find every eye in the preschool classroom on him. “I want an apple. Where’s my apple?” That was the moment he realized the influence he had as a caregiver. As adults, he says, we see the influences of social media on ourselves, but what does it look like to bring young children into this environment?
Danny is the creator and host of the preschool series, Danny Joe’s Tree House on Kidoodle TV (http://dannyjoestreehouse.com/). The show is a love letter to early children’s television, such as Ding Dong School and The Friendly Giant. On his show, Danny acts as a “kind and thoughtful preschool teacher who invites families to come out and play about big thoughts, ideas, and feelings.”
To watch episodes of Cookies For Breakfast, head here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8944316. What do you think of an Instagram for young children? Leave your comments below this post.