In a move that is understandably garnering some criticism, Facebook recently confirmed reports that it’s building an Instagram for Kids. The confirmation comes on the heels of Facebook’s announcement that it’s offering new safety features for teens currently using Instagram.
The new app will reportedly be for users under the age of 13. In a leaked internal company post obtained by BuzzFeed News, Instagram vice president of product Vishal Shah had this to say: “I’m excited to announce that going forward, we have identified youth work as a priority for Instagram and have added it to our H1 priority list. 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.”
The company also admitted that it’s been experiencing some trouble verifying users’ ages, so the under-13 crowd may very well be on the platform already. But the news comes to the distaste of many parents, one of whom I follow on Instagram who simply said, “This is why Facebook sucks.”
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times. Kids are practically born with a smartphone these days (my own daughter is two and knows how to navigate my phone far better than she should), but the idea of young children having access to a platform like Instagram—at least as we know it—is understandably troubling.
YouTube for kids makes some sense (the platform offers plenty of animal videos and educational content to children of all ages), so perhaps we can expect to see something similar on this new venture from Facebook. But what does it mean for businesses, and furthermore, how does the app plan to make money?
On a personal level, obviously retailers will have to decide whether their kids, grandkids, etc. will have access to the app. But in terms of business ethics—pending whatever advertising choices businesses may have on this potential new app—do you advertise to kids?
Which also raises a question about the business of advertising in general, though perhaps not one of great concern to jewelry retailers. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more children’s jewelry made available by designers and manufacturers. It’s up to the parents to make these purchases (there are so many adorable “Mommy and me” collections that it’s certainly worth a gander), but in this digital era where kids have more access to all manner of things, when—or how—do businesses decide to appeal to them directly?
This all remains to be seen and is quite hypothetical, of course, because we have no idea what a kids’ version of Instagram will look like. But it’s a sure bet there will be some sort of paid content on there, it’s just a matter of what or how it’s done.
Then again, I began frequenting Claire’s at age, like, 5, so perhaps tempting children to part with their chore money for jewelry and accessories is not all that new or strange after all.Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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