Instagram is a juggernaut of the social media realm, joined by many and always gaining new members. However, adults and teenagers are not the only ones who are eager to join the growing Facebook-owned company.
Kids under 13 years of age, who are currently barred from joining the platform, have been asking their parents to join social media apps like Instagram so they can keep up with friends whose parents have permitted them to join.
This, of course, puts many parents in awkward positions, especially since there aren’t a lot of options for them to choose from in terms of helping their kids connect with their friends through safe, controlled, and parent-monitored social media channels. Because Instagram is aware of these pressures, Adam Mosseri, head of the company, confirmed that the popular photo-sharing platform is working on just such a solution for younger audiences eager to join the platform.
Facebook, in its own right, has developed an ad-free version of their Facebook Messenger app (Messenger Kids) that is aimed at younger kids (from 6 to 12 years old) to be able to chat with and communicate with their friends, with the app’s permissions and setting controlled by parents, who can also review every aspect of their children’s activities. With an Instagram alternative, kids too will be able to explore new interests, acquire new hobbies, and keep up with their friends.
Children’s health advocates haven’t exactly been wowed by these developments, criticizing any apps of this sort that target kids as primary users as harmful. They have long advocated for Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) to discontinue the app altogether. This pressure was compounded by a 2019 bug in the Messenger Kids app that permitted children to join groups with users who were not authorized for communication by their parents, an issue Facebook claimed to address and ensured parents that only a small number of users were actually affected.
As stated by Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president, this project has been prioritized by Instagram with the explicit intent of making a platform that is both enjoyable and safe for youngsters and teenagers to use. Mosseri himself, as well as former YouTube Kids executive, turned Instagram VP Pavni Diwanji, will oversee the venture.
While no mention has been made of a new Instagram version available for kids just yet, a recent blog post by the popular platform eluded to such a project being in the works. Of course, it’s hard to blame Instagram for keeping this low-key and taking their time. After all, past efforts dealing with children on the internet in terms of privacy concerns have resulted in some serious complications.
For example, Musical.ly, a platform that was an early precursor to the current TikTok phenomenon was nailed with a $5.7 million fine by the FTC in early 2019 for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) edicts regarding online privacy concerns. In an even more notable example. Google was hit with a whopping $170 million fine for monitoring the viewing of young viewers’ histories in order to set up specifically targetted advertisements for them.