Instagram Plans to Develop a Version for Kids Under 13 Years Old — Here’s What You Need to Know

Instagram has a current policy against kids under 13 using the app, but that may soon change.

By: Amanda Mushro
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SPAIN - 2021/03/29: In this photo illustration, the Instagram app in App Store seen displayed on a smartphone screen and a Instagram logo in the background. (Photo Illustration by Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Photo by: SOPA Images

SOPA Images

While scrolling through Instagram, you’ll probably see friends who share pictures and videos of their kids. And you may see kids — younger than 13 — sharing their own pictures on the app as well. Soon, they may be able to have their own Instagram accounts.

Currently, Instagram does not allow children under the age of 13 to sign up for an account. However, Buzzfeed News recently reported that Instagram is in the process of creating a version of the app that would allow kids 13 and under to access a more kid-friendly Instagram.

Recently, Instagram announced that they are prioritizing safety measures that would protect their youngest users, and since tweens are looking for ways to join apps like Instagram, creating a safe space for them is the company’s focus. VP of Product Vishal Shah wrote the following on an employee message board: "We will be building a new youth pillar within the Community Product Group to focus on two things: (a) accelerating our integrity and privacy work to ensure the safest possible experience for teens and (b) building a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time."

Here are the safety measures Instagram has stated will appear if and when the new Instagram rolls out for children 13 and under:

  • Teens will be encouraged to put their profiles on private when they first register.
  • Adults will be prevented from messaging people under the age of 18 who do not follow them.
  • Safety notices will be sent to teens when they are messaged by an adult who is sending a large amount of friend requests or messages to people under 18.
  • Instagram will make it more difficult for adults to find and follow teens using the search function.

The news has received mixed reviews from parents who are concerned about their kids joining social media, conflicted about their kids having even more screen time, and wondering if the privacy features can be trusted.

However, it’s not just parents of tweens who feel that way. According to the New York Times, "an international coalition of 35 children’s and consumer groups called on Instagram to scrap its plans to develop a version of the popular photo-sharing app for users under age 13."

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (because Facebook owns Instagram), members of the groups said allowing younger children on Instagram is simply opening them up to situations that they are simply not mature enough to handle.

"While collecting valuable family data and cultivating a new generation of Instagram users may be good for Facebook’s bottom line," the groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston, said in the letter to Mr. Zuckerberg, "it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform’s manipulative and exploitative features."

Instagram has also said they are in the very early planning stages of the new version of the app and no solid plans or timeline have been laid out yet.

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