In a surprise announcement, Instagram said in a blog post this week that it will be pausing further developments on its “Instagram for kids” app.
The app, which Facebook had been planning for several months, was due to be a controversial addition to the company’s tech portfolio.
The public health group Campaign for Commercial-free Childhood has been campaigning for some time for Facebook to cancel its plans to launch an Instagram app aimed at kids.
In a joint letter signed by 99 public health groups and individual campaigners, concerns were raised over cyberbullying, worsening mental health problems, and children being exposed to unsuitable and potentially harmful content on the app.
After announcing the news on Monday, the company said its original intentions were good, and they had been resisting urges from advocacy groups and state attorneys general to shelve the idea over risks to kids’ privacy and wellbeing.
The statement reads, “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 … We’re announcing these steps today so we can get it right.”
Instagram continues to defend the app idea
Even though Instagram has canceled its plans, for now, the company has continued to defend the idea. A report in the Wall Street Journal recently said Instagram poses a “significant teen mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public.”
However, Instagram says that this isn’t the case and the research suggests that apps like Instagram help teenagers and kids with issues they are already facing.
Additionally, the company argues that teenagers that are struggling with anxiety, loneliness, or depression found Instagram to be helpful to them. The only issue Instagram isn’t helpful for teenagers was body image, as it can cause more pressure.
The tech giant had also planned for the new app to be managed by parents and said that it would be designed to be more child-friendly than the original app, as safety and privacy would be a priority for a younger audience.