A separate Instagram app for kids under the age of 13?
I guess, there's already Messenger Kids, which has some 7 million monthly active users, in 70 countries. So it makes some sense, then, that Instagram is looking to also develop a new kids version, according to a new report from BuzzFeed News.
As reported by BuzzFeed, according to an internal company communication, Instagram is now working on "a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time".
Instagram currently blocks users aged under 13 from signing up for an account, though many youngsters still attempt to join the app - so many, in fact, that according to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, building a separate kids version may be the best way to stop them from doing so, and potentially exposing themselves to more risk.
“We have to do a lot here, but part of the solution is to create a version of Instagram for young people or kids where parents have transparency or control. It’s one of the things we’re exploring.”
Mosseri says that they don't have a clear strategy in place for the kids version (I'm calling it 'Kidstagram') as yet, but it is something that they're exploring. Which will no doubt raise many more concerns and safety questions if and when it does get an official release plan in place.
In some ways, as Mosseri notes, having a separate kids version makes sense, in that it would allow younger users to interact with friends on a similar platform to the one that they see their parents and other, older kids using, without exposing them to potential dangers from predators, which have become a rising concern for the app.
Just this week, Instagram launched some new tools to better protect younger users, including a new restriction that will block adults from messaging teens who don’t follow them. Instagram also has various tools in place to protect users against bullying and abuse - but then again, the fact that Instagram needs so many of these types of options could suggest that maybe adding a separate kids version of the app might not be beneficial, and could lead to further instances of bullying and abuse among younger groups.
Ideally, that doesn't happen, and maybe, by restricting who can use the app, and giving parents oversight, Instagram can reduce this risk, and still provide a version of the app for younger users. But there will need to be stringent control and oversight options in place, or it could still be a risky proposition in terms of facilitating engagement.
There's not a lot to go on at this stage, but it'll be interesting to see if Instagram does push ahead with this, and if we see Kidstagram appear sometime later in the year.
No doubt privacy advocates will be watching on, and rightfully highlighting any potential risks.