Facebook’s Messenger Kids seemed destined to segregate the audience, so it is not really surprising to see it draw ire so soon after its launch. The latest disapproval comes from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has written an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg.
Harmful for Children?
In the letter, the advocacy group urges the Facebook founder to close the app, on the basis that it is detrimental to the healthy growth of children’s health and potentially harmful.
“Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts,” the letter reads.
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.Social media use by teens is linked to significantly higher rates of depression, and adolescents who spend an hour a day chatting on social networks report less satisfaction with nearly every aspect of their lives. Eighth graders who use social media for 6-9 hours per week are 47% more likely to report they are unhappy than their peers who use social media less often.
The group contends that at a time, where online relationships among adults are under much debate due to their intricacies, it is negligent of the network to come out with such a service for children.
About Messenger for Kids
Messenger Kids is a special variant of the app made specifically for children under 13. It allows them to communicate with their parents (as well as anyone else they approve) and send videos, AR lenses and GIFs to each other. It doesn’t feature advertisements.
The full letter from the advocacy group can be read here (pdf). Facebook for its part has maintained that it built the app in close collaboration with advocacy groups. It is unlikely to take further action.