Facebook announced Monday that it has halted the creation of an Instagram app aimed at children under 13 after The Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) published a report on the psychological impact of this platform on teenagers, but clarified that it is not completely giving up on the project.
“We believe that building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, but we are going to put this work on pause,” wrote in a press release the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, a day after Facebook — the company that owns Instagram — contradicted the recent information from the WSJ, based on an internal investigation to which it had access.
Facebook’s internal documents revealed by that newspaper this month determined that Instagram is harmful to a portion of its younger users and that it was especially “toxic” for teenage girls, as it “exacerbates” the problems that one in three girls have of their body image.
“The WSJ’s recent reporting on our research into teens’ experiences on Instagram has raised a lot of questions for people. To be clear, I disagree with how the Journal has reported our research,” said Mosseri, who said the goal was to “improve” the app.
In that regard, he noted that Facebook is creating “Instagram Kids,” aimed at children under 13, so that parents “have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram designed for them,” where they can “monitor and control their experience.”
He highlighted the “reality” that children are getting phones at younger and younger ages and that other social networks have decided to create “specific” projects for a child audience, citing YouTube and TikTok, which have versions for children under 13.
On the children’s version of Instagram, he said it is focused on children between 10 and 12 years old, will require parental permission to join, will not have ads and will include “age-appropriate” content under time monitoring tools, messages or tracking for their parents.
“While we pause our development of ‘Instagram Kids,’ we will continue our work to enable parents to monitor their children’s accounts by extending these tools to teen accounts (ages 13 and up) on Instagram,” Mosseri added.
Regarding the teen image issues reported by the WSJ, the executive said the company is “exploring” two ideas: one to encourage people not to focus on “content that could contribute to negative social comparison” and another to “take a break” from the platform.