Instagram isn’t just for adults anymore. I mean, it never really was to begin with, but now the company is making things official. There is word that Facebook is working to create a new social media app so children will be able to steer clear of Instagram predators. This new app is geared specifically to kids but will replicate some of the features of the original photo-sharing app. Will we start to see a group of pre-teen influencers now? We could be looking at someone becoming IG-Kid famous.
In recent years, Facebook, which owns Instagram, had been working to make more kid-friendly and *safe* versions of their apps for a younger crowd. The first of these was Messenger Kids, an approximation of the popular messaging app that is linked to a Facebook account. The Kids version had a number of safeguards in place to ensure kids were only communicating with a select group of people. Namely, parents had to approve any new contacts for their child’s account. In this way, Facebook was trying to offer an easier version of the app for kids to communicate but also ensure that the kids didn’t fall prey to Instagram predators and abuse through the app.
There’s a belief this new version of Instagram would be built in a similar vein and allow kids to follow or communicate with their friends within peer groups., thereby avoiding the Instagram predators out there. Facebook hasn’t released a great many details on the new app except to say that it will start by having younger age thresholds for use. The current form of Instagram requires users to be over the age of 13. Obviously, this new one won’t have that as a requirement.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was asked a direct question about this development in his Congressional hearing last week. He faced a number of questions about the social media giant from the panel with a number of different issues brought up. One of them concerned this new social media app for kids. While Zuckerberg didn’t tackle Instagram predators specifically, he did have this to say about the thought process in bringing a new app like this into development:
“There is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram…I think helping people stay connected with friends and learn about different content online is broadly positive. There were clearly issues that need to be thought through and worked out, including how parents can control the experience of kids, especially kids under the age of 13. “
While protecting kids from Instagram predators is, on its face, an admirable goal for the social media giant, there are real concerns with targeting a new app like this specifically to a much younger age demographic. While the Messenger Kids app has a pretty core focus of just texting between friends and family, an Instagram for Kids would likely take a much broader approach. If it worked even a little like the original version there could be large-scale ramifications for how a younger generation interacts with this kind of media.
Time will tell what Facebook develops with this new app. Details are still very light on the specifics with only the idea that they are developing something new coming to light recently. And sure, there are plenty of bad people out there on the internet, with Instagram predators and trolls making up a group that can cause strife with a younger generation. But will the juice be worth the squeeze with this new app? Will saving a group from bad actors on one platform just take the form of an addictive social media app for younger kids? That could end up being the case.