Kuddle: Why It’s Not An “Instagram for Kids”
Image sharing apps seem to be the new thing social media companies want to be a part of and Kuddle is one such company trying to find a niche in this trend. This app functions a lot like Instagram, but specifically targets the under 13 crowd. While they have certainly tried to create a safer environment for children than Instagram, they’re not compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In order to be an app, website or online game for kids, they are required by law to be compliant. There is no in between.
Using the app, you can tell that the people behind Kuddle have worked hard to make it a place where cyberbullying is unwelcome and inappropriate content is weeded out. We applaud them for that. But, from the get-go, when a child signs up for Kuddle, they are required to provide personally identifiable information to join. Without properly obtaining verifiable parental consent, Kuddle is not allowed to have that information.
Parents, according to the Federal Trade Commission that determines and governs COPPA compliancy, personally identifiable information is considered to be the name of your child, photos of your child, and their email address. This information can only be obtained after the site, app, or game has received a parent or guardian’s permission to use it. Unfortunately, Kuddle requires your child to provide their full name to register. Although we admire their intent to help deter cyberbullying, a child using their real full name in social media or games isn’t recommended until they’re in their late teens when they may want to use it for recruitment purposes, college or job applications.
Kuddle’s attempt to provide verifiable consent falls dramatically short. They ask a child for their parent’s email address (just as we do at Yoursphere), but Kuddle doesn’t follow through and require the parent to provide verified consent and permission for their child to share their name, photos and other personal information. At this point, they only send an email to the parent’s address provided asking a parent to click to activate their child’s account. And that’s the extent of it. That is not verifiable parental consent.
We commend companies that want to make apps and games for kids. As parents, it’s important that we are familiar with these privacy laws and that we know we have a right to consent to what information is used and shared by our children online. We must also have an understanding that we need do our part to provide that consent, with real information, in order to make children’s online privacy a reality.
Kuddle has some work to do. I suggest they work with PRIVO as Yoursphere does. PRIVO will make sure Kuddle is compliant. Until then, Kuddle is definitely not an “Instagram for Kids” and I wouldn’t recommend it.