Lego Life is a new Instagram-style photo-sharing network built with kids in mind. Lego calls it âAn app full of cool stuff. An app full of your cool stuff,” and it provides something for kids that didn’t exist before: a social network to share photos of Lego creations.
The app (available on the App Store and Google Play) is built around having a safe experience for kids, starting with the on-boarding process. Kids can create an account in the app, but it asks for a parent’s email address. The parent then gets a message that confirms the child’s age and gender, activating the account.
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Another security measure: kid members can’t use their real names; instead, usernames are a randomly generated combination of three words (e.g. LadyGutsyPiano). Kids can also create avatars, but the options are limited to what Lego provides.
When a kid first starts using the app, it shows them images of Lego creations from random users as well as some from Lego itself. Following other users is as easy as tapping or clicking, and once kids choose a few, the feed will help steer you to content that it thinks you might like.
The app heavily moderates user interactions. For instance, users can only comment on other users’ posts with emoji, selected from the custom Lego emoji keyboard, which is far more limited than the regular emoji keyboard (notably, there is no poop emoji). On official Lego posts, however, users can comment normally (i.e. with words).
To help keep things rated G, Lego says it employs âhighly trained moderatorsâ to vet every post and comment on the network to make sure they’re age appropriate. For the photos themselves, each one also needs to be Lego-related (no cat pics, please). Photos may not link to other websites or show real people.
Unlike other social networks, Lego Life doesn’t depend entirely on user-generated content. Lego posts a lot of its own conttant, from challenges to photos of cool Lego projects.
“The network is fulfilling a demand. I like the spirit of it and would let my seven-year-old join, though Iâm a bit wary of the open commenting on Lego-created content,” said Mashable Tech Editor Pete Pachal, father of two. “On the kid commenting, I personally would prefer to see it more like Facebook reactions: a smaller set of emoji reactions, rather than comments. Using Lego emoji will probably result in every comment becoming a rebus puzzle.”
Software for kids is a growing market, but the space has huge challenges. Apps have to appeal to both parents and kids, and have safety measures built in for parents to feel comfortable using it. The Lego Life app is well made in this regard, and puts safety first even if limiting functionality a bit. Not everything about it is awesome, but the first step is pretty great.