Child Health Experts Urge Facebook to Scrap 'Messenger Kids' App

Child Health Experts Urge Facebook to Scrap 'Messenger Kids' App

"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the USA, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want", Facebook Product Management Director, Loren Cheng, at the time.

Around 100 child advocates and experts are urging Facebook to discontinue its new Messenger Kids app over concerns that it will "undermine children's healthy development".

They also launched an online petition, saying in part, "Research shows that excessive social media use is already harming adolescents and teens". Nope-incredibly, they have instead rolled out junior versions of their platforms so that even more kids will use them. Facebook pushed the app as a safe and secure way of letting under 13s chat online with friends and family.

Messenger Kids was designed as a safe space for children who are too young to use social media but have lied their way onto other services.

Additionally, it's argued that the app will cause children to spend more time using digital devices, which researchers say can stunt development skills. Is the app's target audience really ready for social media? However, an advocacy group is arguing that none of those features matter because, they say, Messenger Kids is inherently risky to kids.

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Upon announcing the launch of Messenger Kids, Facebook said it will not sell adverts on the app or use the data it collects for marketing purposes. "Call them on FaceTime", Twenge says.

Smartphone manufacturers should also be subject to more regulation, such as requiring that the age of the user be specified when the phone is set up. "We ask that you do not use Facebook's enormous reach and influence to make it even harder. We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids the best experience it can be for families", said Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, in a statement to the Washington Post. But the 11- and 12- year-olds who now use Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook are unlikely to switch to an app that is clearly designed for younger children.

Facebook told The Sun that Messenger Kids was created with "an advisory committee of parenting and developmental experts", as well as families and America's Parent-Teacher Assocation.

Jean M. Twenge is the author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy-and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). High school students, on the other hand, use it as a resource, and those who use social media a little bit are happier than those who don't at all, says Twenge but 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds lack the maturity, ability to deal with the anticipation and complex online relationships, or understanding of privacy.

The same day Facebook rolled out Messenger Kids, the company a new $1 million research fund to explore technology's long-term impact on children and pledged to share its findings publicly.

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