Ephemeral messaging app Snapchat is unveiling a new version of its service designed for all the youngsters out there – those under the age of 13.
It’s called “SnapKidz,” and it comes along with a new iOS update. Basically, it allows kids under the age of 13 to use the app – but only for its “snapping” and editing tools. SnapKidz does not allow for the actual sending of messages.
Here’s what Snapchat had to say in a blog post:
We’re also trying out something new in this release. As you may know, Snapchat is for teens and adults— children under the age of 13 are not allowed to create accounts. The previous iOS update introduced age-gating, in which we asked people their age on the registration screen and didn’t allow them to proceed if the age entered was under 13. This was a pretty standard way of handling things, but it didn’t provide a very good experience. So now, in addition to age-gating, we’ve decided to try something a little different.
In the new iOS version, kids under the age of 13 are able to fill out the registration form, however their user information is not sent to us and an account is not created. Instead they are able to use “SnapKidz” a version of Snapchat that includes an interface for taking snaps, captioning, drawing, and saving them locally on the device, but does not support sending or receiving snaps or adding friends. We’re trying it out first on iOS and if all goes well, we hope to include it in an upcoming Android update.
Of course, kids under the age of 13 can just lie and say they’re old enough to use the full version. But if you’re a parent who monitors your young child’s app usage, you can make sure they only have access to the “Kidz” version of the app – which is really just a photo and video capture app once the messaging capabilities have been stripped.
When Snapchat first launched and started to grow, it had to defend against allegations that it was simply an app for sexting. And with its strategy, sending short, self-destructing messages, who can blame those who saw sexting as its primary use? But as Snapchat started to become more popular, those concerns have been pushed more to the margins.
Snapchat added video on iOS last December and on Android back in February. In April, founder Evan Spiegel said that the app was seeing an incredible 150 million photos per day.