Instagram Is Creating a New App That Will Be for Kids Under 13
Social media is a great way to express yourself and connect with friends and family, but it can also be a difficult and sometimes dangerous place to be for kids.
In response to the growing need to combat online bullying and other issues kids might experience on social media, Facebook (Instagram's parent company) has confirmed reports that it is developing an "Instagram for kids," according to the Associated Press (AP).
"I'm excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list," said Vishal Shah, vice president of product at Instagram, according to Buzzfeed News. "We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time."
Users under 13 are technically not allowed to make their own accounts on Instagram, though there have been many stories about younger users suffering abuse and bullying, according to Buzzfeed News. The new Instagram for kids app would fall under Instagram's commitment to protecting the "youngest members of our community." Other plans include a new guide for parents, better systems for understanding a user's real age, and reducing private messages between teens and adults they don't follow, according to a blog post by Instagram.
Facebook also made a similar push to its Messenger app in 2017 when it created a parent-controlled extension of the app called Messenger Kids, according to the AP.
But critics of the new Instagram for kids app are concerned about children's privacy and safety. "Increasing safeguards for children online is paramount, but the fact remains that Facebook will be harvesting children's data and profiting off their detailed profiles," said Rasha Abdul-Rahim, co-director of Amnesty Tech, an arm of the nonprofit Amnesty International, according to the AP.
While children under 13 are not technically "allowed" on many social media apps, a study from Common Sense Media noted that about half of kids in the U.S. have signed up for a social media account by age 12, according to CNN.
Currently, there is no announcement on when the new kid-friendly Instagram app will be widely available.
Andrea Romano is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @theandrearomano.