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A group of organizations comprised of child advocates, health experts, and educators is urging Facebook to dump Messenger Kids. They have written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling on his company to discontinue Messenger Kids and let children enjoy their childhood.
In case you missed it, Messenger Kids is a version of Facebook Messenger aimed at children ages between six and 12. Their parents are always in control, choosing who they befriend, and having the ability to see exactly what they’re doing. But it’s still Facebook for children.
Campaigning to Kill Messenger Kids
As soon as the app was announced parents expressed concern that Facebook was targeting young children. As reported by the Washington Post, that concern has now coalesced into a letter by The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), with the support of other organizations.
In the letter [PDF link] the CCFC and their backers call on Facebook to “discontinue Messenger Kids,” claiming that “excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it very likely this new app will undermine children’s healthy development”.
Messenger Kids is a nice way to let you keep in touch with your teenager while still being able to ground them from their phone.
— Reclaiming My Executive Time (@angelwind76) January 29, 2018
The letter further claims that children are “not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships,” and “do not have a fully developed understanding of privacy”. Recent studies are then cited showing how social media use can negatively affect kids in various different ways.
The letter ends by stating, “Raising children in our new digital age is difficult enough. We ask that you do not use Facebook’s enormous reach and influence to make it even harder”. Facebook has already responded, telling various publications that it has no plans to shutter Messenger Kids.
Hooking Children While They’re Young
Facebook clearly tried to ensure Messenger Kids is as inoffensive to parents as possible. However, it’s still an app designed to hook children as young as six on social media. And that is never going to sit well with people whose job it is to look out for the wellbeing of children.
Have you let your children start using Messenger Kids? If so, why? Would you rather they got used to using social media in a responsible manner? If not, why? Do you think kids should be kept away from social media until they turn 13-years-old? Please let us know in the comments below!