The idea of creating a children’s version of picture sharing service Snapchat seems a bit crazy, considering the number of people who use it as a way to have naughty 18-and-over conversations. However, it might not actually be that far-fetched.
The new service, SnapKidz, lives within the iOS version of Snapchat. It’s enabled whenever someone under the age of 13 signs up for the service via the birth date on each account. Normally, Snapchat users may share pictures with friends that disappear after 10 seconds. However, SnapKidz doesn’t let children share pictures with anyone, but they can still snap pictures, draw on them, and save them to their device.
This is actually the first time Snapchat has permitted accounts from anyone under the age of 13 to even sign up, which is necessary under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a law then requires certain safeguards be in place for any online service that allows minors. (This is the same reason Facebook won’t enable children 13 and under to register for an account.)
Previously, the company started “age-gating” by asking each member their birthday and stopping the registration process for anyone under 13. As you can imagine, this probably just caused the underaged kids to lie about their birth date, thus enabling the app’s full functionality. Providing a “SnapKidz” version of the service could curb that, as long as those same kids aren’t able to go back into their user accounts to change their birth date. At the very least, it should prevent outsiders from sharing explicit images with minors.
While SnapKidz is only available on iOS right now, the Snapchat team said it plans to bring it to other versions of the service if it’s well received.