Has your child been pestering you to get his/her own Instagram account for some time now? No? Well Facebook says that there is an increasing number of kids asking their parents to let them join apps like Instagram to keep in touch with friends. And their solution for this is to develop an app that will let kids 13 years old and below to have their own Instagram account. And while they say they are building this with safety and security in mind, this plan will surely be met with a lot of concern and criticism.
Buzzfeed News reports that Instagram head Adam Mosseri has confirmed that they are indeed exploring creating a version of Instagram that is for kids but with parental control taking center stage similar to what they did with Messenger Kids. An internal messaging board states that Instagram’s vice president of product Vishal Shah emphasized that a “youth pillar” is a priority for the company. Their Community Product Group will be working on the privacy and safety issues that will surely crop up.
Instagram has actually faced a lot of criticism lately as the platform has been deemed unsafe for teenagers who have experienced bullying, harassment, abuse, predation, etc. Just a few days ago, they released a blog post talking about the steps they are taking to make Instagram safer for “the youngest members of our community”. But they did not mention anything about plans to develop a new version of the platform for even younger kids.
Even the aforementioned Messenger for Kids has faced criticism from safety advocates. While parental controls were pretty stringent, a bug that affected it back in 2019 which allowed children to join groups with strangers. They said it only affected “a small number” of users and they immediately closed the unauthorized chats. But some parents found it hard to trust the messaging service again although they still have a pretty good userbase now.
There are still no details about how they plan to make Instagram safe for kids 13 years old and below when even older kids are having unsafe experiences on the main app now. Let’s wait and see whether this is something they will still pursue despite objections.