The reason for the temporary pause is solely down to Instagram wanting to ‘proactively’ address its concerns over safety and wellbeing
In response to a critical study and a public request from multiple parents and community leaders, Instagram is temporarily pausing the release of the version of its app designed for children and children’s interests.
Instagram will temporarily suspend the rollout of Instagram Kids – a version of the app designed specifically for children aged six and upwards – in the hope of allowing the company time to address concerns over safety and wellbeing.
“Our team has been listening and we want to proactively address the concerns that have been raised with Instagram Kids,” the app’s team said.
“We do not want anyone to feel uncomfortable or afraid while using Instagram Kids,” it added.
Instagram Kids was released on 15 May and created just for children.
At launch, Instagram claims it has “updated your privacy settings to restrict your children’s ability to share content with their friends outside of Instagram Kids”. But that is in response to a critical study, commissioned by the parents of two children using the app and carried out by the child welfare firm Netmums. The study also found that “most children in the group do not know who their real friends are”.
Last week, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital also issued a joint statement expressing grave concerns about the impact of Instagram on children’s wellbeing. It called on Instagram to launch a campaign to educate parents about the app, noting that: “Many children and parents we have spoken to have concerns that they might be exposed to bullying, sexual images and pornography via Instagram Kids.”
In February, the NSPCC stated that “paedophiles are one of the most abused, neglected and unseen people online.”
Instagram has said that it is working on ways to improve the app for children, including: “Adding more ways to tailor content, including clearly labelled memes and stickers, ensuring it doesn’t make a ‘too young’ claim and giving parents more tools to opt-out of visibility for younger users.”
In response to earlier concerns from the public and child advocates, the app has attempted to address, in writing, the following objections:
“We do not make a claim on Instagram Kids that it is ‘for kids’ (spoken too soon)”
“Along with other apps, we do not monitor exactly what people in your community do or say, as that would be impossible. Also, we cannot make a claim that Instagram Kids is monitored and approved for every location you use it in. That’s a subjective call. However, we do listen to feedback from our community and are actively working on improving the product.
“We don’t make a claim that children under six can’t be on the service.”
“We do not collect your information in the registration screen.”
“All playlists are generic playlists, just similar to any other Instagram account.”
“We do not track your location in the app, and it is not possible to do so”
Instagram was launched in 2010. It has 500 million active users per month. The company has become immensely popular with Generation Z, a term used to describe teenagers between the ages of 13 and 24 who are often referred to as “yo kids”.