Kudos, an app for kids aged eight to 13 with around-the-clock moderation, positions itself as a safe introduction to social media that also teaches its young users how to navigate social media responsibly.
It recently moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, California from Oslo, Norway and is now rolling out the app in the United States. It originated as a photo sharing app called Kuddle in 2014.
Since then, the app has changed its name, added many new features and hired a team that includes alumni from Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar and Instagram. The startup says it has raised $5.7 million in seed funding from individual investors.
Kudos is designed for kids aged eight to 13, but its most active users are between nine and 11 years old. While some parents might question why their preteens even need to be on social media (or have access to a smartphone), co-founder and chief executive officer Ole Vidar Hestaas says Kudos wants to teach them how to communicate and stay safe online.
Hestaas, a serial entrepreneur, became interested in building a social network for kids after his son, who was then seven years old, saw his older sisters using Instagram and Snapchat. After being told he was too young to sign up for either service, Hestaas’ son asked him to create a platform just for kids.
“Like any parent, I was concerned about the potential for bullying and exposure to inappropriate content if my son used the apps that were designed for kids over 13. So when my son challenged me to create an app, I dove in head first, realizing that this was a need for all kids and could have the potential to make a huge positive impact on the way kids connect and share on social media,” Vestaas said in an email.
He adds that by sharing photos, comments and reactions on Kudos, the app can teach its young users how to communicate online. Kudos is filled with constant reminders to keep things positive. For example, comment boxes tell users to “leave a nice comment” and all groups are created by Kudos, with prompts for sharing “written in encouraging language,” says Hestaas.