Facebook’s Messenger Kids app comes under fire
Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg had previously admitted that an addiction to social media could negatively affect the health of adults. This could be the same for the Messenger Kids app as many experts on child health have requested for the messenger kids app to be retracted.
A part of the open letter read:
“Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts. They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among mature users. They also do not have a fully developed understanding of privacy, including what’s appropriate to share with others and who has access to their conversations, pictures and videos.”
Facebook had said that the app was designed to give parents a full access to how the children used the social media. Nevertheless, the app has been criticised as an “irresponsible” attempt to lure young children into the complexities of life via social media.
Facebook responded to these complaints saying that since its launch in December, there have been no negative remarks from the parents and that in fact, the app has been useful in helping them reach across to distant relatives and has also helped late-night-working parents to keep tabs of the online activities of the kids.
However, the letter defeated Facebook’s claim of owning a messenger account to connect with distant relatives. “But talking to family and friends over long distances doesn’t require a Messenger Kids account. Kids can use parents’ Facebook, Skype or other account to chat with relatives. They can also just pick up a phone”.
Depression and anxiety had been linked to the increase in the use of social media, resulting from cyber-bullying. Another research revealed that 47% of 13-14-year olds who are addicted to social media are less happy than their peers who use platforms less often. Also, some of the teenagers begin to show extreme concerns about their body structures as they begin to model after a favourite thin superstar. All these and many more are the ills of social media on younger kids who cannot delineate between fantasy and the real world.
Although Facebook claims that the Messenger app is an avenue for children to be open about their real ages, especially those who have pretended to be older than they are, it’s unrealistic to think that the same kids who are currently on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are likely to switch to the Messenger app designed for kids.
The open letter was signed by a couple of child welfare organisations and a host of individuals in the US.