“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 company said in a statement.
The company emphasized that they will continue to pay special attention to teens' safety on the platform and expand parental control features over the accounts of children over the age of 13 in the primary app.
The plans to develop the so-called "Instagram Kids" for children under 13 were announced in March. This version was supposed to have no ads and no adult content. Moreover, kids would only be able to register there with their parents' permission, who would keep track of the time their kids spend online and control who can follow their kids and who they can follow.
However, the version of Instagram for kids was heavily criticized by parents, legislators, and human rights activists who claimed that Instagram could be harmful to children who can find a way to register there even despite the age restrictions.
The final decision to pause the development of Instagram Kids came after The Wall Street Journal published an investigation based on internal Facebook research, indicating that Instagram may contribute to the development of mental disorders in teenage girls and negatively affect their self-esteem. It claims that Facebook knew about the negative impact of Instagram on the psyche of teens, but this information was never officially published.