By Analiese Dodd
Facebook recently announced that it will be expanding its popular video and photo-sharing app Instagram by launching an Instagram platform for kids under the age of 13.
This new version of the app will encourage kids to create their own safe experience where they can share posts with their friends. There are some concerns parents should be aware of before signing their kids up for this new experience.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
As of now, Instagram doesn’t allow users under the age of 13 in order to protect kids’ privacy. This new Instagram for kids (younger than 13 years old) will allow kids to communicate with one another while limiting their access. The program is led by Facebook Vice President Pavni Diwanji, who has overseen many children-focused projects for Google including YouTube Kids. The exact layout of the kids’ app hasn’t been specified as the program is still in early development.
Instagram has said it needs to do more to protect its younger users from some of the dangers that come with social media. In particular, it is looking into ways to prevent the bullying, predation, and abuse that sometimes finds kids on its app. This new version of Instagram will severely limit access to these kinds of environments, and will give parents control or transparency over what’s happening on their child’s account.
WHY THE CONCERN?
While this new version of the app may invite kids to engage with one another, parents should still be wary of the new experience. Despite Instagram’s assurance that the app will be secure, there are still risks with getting young kids involved with this kind of social media. Sometimes when kids get involved with apps like YouTube Kids and other kid versions of apps they transition quickly to the adult versions of the app.
Buzzfeednews.com’s article “Facebook is Building an Instagram for Kids Under the Age of 13” points out several concerns that arose when Facebook started a similar kids version of Facebook Messenger called Messenger Kids. There were several problems with the program that allowed kids to enter chats with unauthorized users. The problems were limited to a select number of users, but it was still a danger to young kids who were using the app.
This new Instagram for kids app has not been fully developed or tested, but it might be best to keep as updated as possible while more information comes in. This new Instagram can be a great thing for kids in moderation, but it is easy for them to get consumed by it. Each family should make its own choice when it comes to downloading the app and deciding the parental controls that are appropriate for each individual child.
This article first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.