Lego joins the Instagram generation with Lego Life
In its purest form, Lego is designed to be built, and then torn down and changed into something completely different. What was a spaceship one day could easily be a racing car the next, for any budding young Elon Musk, but what record lives on after each transition? In 2014 we saw 1.8 billion photographs uploaded every day (“every two minutes, humans take more photos than ever existed 150 years ago,” as The Atlantic points out). Now Lego is contributing to our snap-happy culture, creating a free social network for its young fans aged five to 13 to share their plastic brick-based photography with the world.
It’s called Lego Life, and it’s basically Instagram for Lego. Given Instagram has a theoretical joining age of 13, you could consider Lego Life virtual training wheels for a fully fledged Instagram account. Children can share photos of their creations with other enthusiasts, follow other fans and take part in building challenges. Lego celebrities such as Ninjago’s Master Wu and Lego Batman will be on hand to comment on creations.
So far, so Instagram – only Lego Life sounds like a much nicer environment. While Instagram was getting critiqued by the children’s commissioner for England earlier this month, Lego Life has child safety built into its very foundations. You can’t share any personal information, for example, and avatars are customisable Lego mini-figures. Images and comments are moderated through a filter and by Lego employees, and user-generated content can only be commented on through Lego emoji, stickers and pre-formed text responses. Any photos that contain identifiable information are blocked from the site.
That’s pretty admirable, assuming it works. The internet can be a wonderful place, but it can also destroy your faith in humanity pretty damned quickly. On the other hand, while I fully agree with the rationale behind child safety here, there’s something quite sad that a social network has much of its sociability removed. Growing up in the late 90s when the internet was still forming, I made some lasting friendships through IRC and forums – people I still see regularly today. With no way of identifying your fellow anonymous mini-figures, you can’t help but wonder how many potential lifelong friendships will never be allowed to blossom when young Lego enthusiasts graduate beyond Lego Life and into the Wild West of the unprotected internet.
Still, lamenting what it might have been in a less sinister alternate universe is a pointless endeavour, and if your child is a huge Lego fan, you can download the app now on iOS and Android. It’s free, without microtransactions – and the only adverts it contains are for Lego products.