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Instagram Kids put on hold over child safety concerns

Decision to put Instagram Kids on hold came after a WSJ series which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety. (REUTERS)Premium
Decision to put Instagram Kids on hold came after a WSJ series which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety. (REUTERS)

This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today, Instagram said

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Instagram said it has paused the development of a children-friendly version of its application, colloquially known as Instagram Kids. The image sharing platform said it will focus on talking to stakeholders and alleviate their concerns.

“While we stand by the need to develop this experience, we’ve decided to pause this project. This will give us time to work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today," Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a blog post on Monday.

Instagram Kids had children under the age of 13 as its target audience. This version of Instagram was meant to provide children age-appropriate content with measures allowing parents to supervise usage. Competitors TikTok and YouTube already have versions of their app developed specifically for children.

The decision to put Instagram Kids on hold comes after a scathing series by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety.

Facebook announced working on Instagram Kids in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience". The push back against the project was almost immediate and in May, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well being of children.

“Critics of “Instagram Kids" will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today," Mosseri said.

He clarified that Instagram Kids is meant for children aged 10-12 years, and not younger.

“It will require parental permission to join, it won’t have ads, and it will have age-appropriate content and features. Parents can supervise the time their children spend on the app and oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow. The list goes on," he further said.

The Instagram head said that the platform will continue to develop parental control tools and will even expand it to accounts of teens aged 13 and over. More developments on this will be shared in coming months, he said.

 

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