'Instagram Kids' halted amid backlash and mental health concerns from damning report 3 months ago

'Instagram Kids' halted amid backlash and mental health concerns from damning report

The company says this is not "an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea."

Instagram has announced it will be pausing its 'Instagram Kids' project in order to take time "to work with parents, experts and policymakers."

The news comes as Facebook, which owns Instagram, is defending itself from a damning report by the Wall Street Journal that claims the company's own research suggests the image-sharing platform is "toxic for teen girls."

Plans for an 'Instagram Kids' app was announced back in March, leading to severe backlash from parents and policymakers alike.

Earlier this year, 44 attorneys general penned a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging the company to halt its plans for the project. Citing psychological and safety-related reasons, the letter stated it would be harmful to launch a children's version of the app.

Despite a recent Facebook blog post defending itself from the WSJ accusations, the company has now announced it will be pausing 'Instagram Kids' as it works to integrate parental supervision and other tools inspired by feedback.

"We believe building 'Instagram Kids' is the right thing to do, but we're pausing the work," Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, wrote in a statement.

"...We started this project to address an important problem seen across our industry: kids are getting phones younger and younger, misrepresenting their age, and downloading apps that are meant for those 13 or older.

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"We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID.

"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."

The statement went on to say this was not "an acknowledgement that the project is a bad idea" and that several other platforms, like YouTube and TikTok, have versions of their app for users under 13.

"Our intention is not for this version to be the same as Instagram today," Mosseri continued. "It was never meant for younger kids, but for tweens (aged 10-12).

"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.

"...While we’re pausing our development of 'Instagram Kids', we’ll continue our work to allow parents to oversee their children’s accounts by expanding these tools to teen accounts (aged 13 and over) on Instagram."