Instagram Plans Separate App for Kids Under 13

The Facebook-owned platform introduced several safety features for teens earlier this week

Instagram's minimum age is 13, but enforcement is difficult
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Facebook confirmed reports that it is exploring a separate Instagram application for kids under the age of 13, the minimum age to use the flagship app.

A spokesperson told Adweek, “Increasingly, kids are asking their parents if they can join apps that help them keep up with their friends. Right now, there aren’t many options for parents, so we’re working on building additional products—like we did with Messenger Kids—that are suitable for kids, managed by parents. We’re exploring bringing a parent-controlled experience to Instagram to help kids keep up with their friends, discover new hobbies and interests and more.”

Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News obtained an internal company post by Instagram vice president of product Vishal Shah revealing the plans.

Shah wrote, “I’m excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list. We will be building a new youth pillar within the community product group to focus on two things: Accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens; and building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time.”

Mac and Silverman reported that according to the internal post, the project will be overseen by head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and Facebook vice president Pavni Diwanji, who joined the company last December after working at Google, where she oversaw products focused on kids, including YouTube Kids.

Mosseri told Mac and Silverman there has been more demand among kids for apps like Instagram and acknowledged the challenges involved in verifying users’ ages, adding, “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.”

He said the product was in the early stages of development, and a detailed plan was not yet available.

Earlier this week, Instagram detailed several updates intended to keep its teen users safe, including:

  • Using “privacy conscious” artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to determine the actual ages of its users and apply some of its new age-appropriate features, as well as to ensure that all users are at least 13.
  • Preventing adults from sending Instagram Direct messages to people under 18 who don’t’ follow them.
  • Using prompts to encourage teens to be cautious in conversations with adults when they are connected on the platform.
  • Restricting adults who have engaged in potentially suspicious behavior, such as sending a large number of friend or message requests to users under the age of 18, from seeing teens’ accounts in suggested users and discovering teen accounts in Explore or Reels, and automatically hiding their comments on public posts by younger users.

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