NEWS30 September 2021

‘Instagram Kids’ development paused

News North America Wellbeing Youth

US – Facebook has stopped work on a version of Instagram aimed at children following media coverage of internal research that suggested the social media app could be damaging to young people.

Instagram and Twitter on phone screen

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has been working on an under-13s version of Instagram called Instagram Kids this year, in line with similar apps built by rival platforms such as YouTube and TikTok.

Instagram Kids would provide greater parental oversight of children’s use of Instagram, including parental permission to join, and would be advertising free and guarantee age-appropriate content and features.

In a blog announcing the pause, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram at Facebook, said that the project would be paused to understand concerns about the platform’s impact on young people and children and ensure Instagram Kids would have appropriate features.

“Critics of Instagram Kids will see this as an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea,” Mosseri said.

“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.”

He added that work on Instagram Kids would continue after a pause to consult policymakers, experts and parents on the platform’s features.

The postponement follows a story in the Wall Street Journal last week that internal research at Facebook from 2019 showed that Instagram had a negative impact on teenagers’ mental health.

However, a blog from Pratiti Raychoudhury, vice-president, head of research, at Facebook, had earlier called the allegations that the research showed Instagram was “toxic” for teenagers was “simply not accurate”.

“This research, some of which relied on input from only 40 teens, was designed to inform internal conversations about teens’ most negative perceptions of Instagram,” Raychoudhury wrote.

“It did not measure causal relationships between Instagram and real-world issues. These documents were also created for and used by people who understood the limitations of the research, which is why they occasionally used shorthand language, particularly in the headlines, and do not explain the caveats on every slide.”