Did you know that there is an Instagram for kids? It's called Kuddle, and the photo-sharing application was designed by developers in Norway who built the thing with the noblest of intentions. It's designed, first and foremost, to teach kids manners and discourage online bullying.
Investors seem to be keen on the idea, too. Reuters reports that the company raised $2 million in funding recently and is about to raise $8 million more, the bulk of which will be used to make a major push in the United States market before the year's end. By that time it could exceed upward of a million users.
"We are very happy with the growth so far," founder and chairwoman Kathryn Baker tells Reuters. "We have had an average daily growth of 10 to 15 percent and the uptake has been great."
The major difference between Kuddle and other photo-sharing apps is it's heavily fortified with built-in safeguards. Not just anyone can sign up: When you first create your login, you're prompted to provide the name and email of a parent or guardian over 18, who can monitor your activity. (Hi, Rose!) Until they register, none of your photos are visible.
When you first join you only have one friend: Someone named Kodi Kuddle—apparently the service's version of MySpace Tom—who by the looks of it has a natural knack for photography. (See above.)
Posting a photo is easy, and you can scribble on your creations just like you can in Snapchat. And while you can write captions for your posts, you can't leave comments. (Remember: Comments are where bullies hang out.) Likes are anonymized, and other users must confirm your friend request before you can view their photos.
Yes, Kuddle wants to teach our kids how to use social media while preserving their basic human decency, but it does so by stripping out all the aspects that make something like Instagram inherently social. What does that say about us? Your guess is as good as mine!
All told, Kuddle is merely the latest push by technology companies to teach children how to use the tools they'll need later as adults. On Tuesday, Google was reportedly looking into building kid-friendly versions of Gmail and YouTube.