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Facebook Messenger for Kids

Facebook Messenger for Kids is finally available, in the United States at least.  This new social app called, "Messenger Kids," is just like your regular messenger but is only for children under 13.  It features tons of parental controls including notifying your parents first before adding someone in your messenger app.

Is Facebook Messenger Kids Safe?

The truth is nothing on social media is actually safe.  At least Messenger Kids give parents some control over their kid's social media interaction.  Even without this kid-specific social media, most children under 13 are already users of Facebook anyway.

“It’s like Coca-Cola inventing a kids’ soda product.”

Well, as we all know soda is not very safe for kids, right?

Some of the parental controls that are integrated into Facebook Messenger Kids include getting authorization from the parent's own Facebook account to sign up and to add each new contact.  However, this same messenger lets people know if the person is online and how long had he been active.  Like the adult messenger, it also allows people to see whether the message had been read, seen or not.  Well, honestly that is important in a messaging app.

What is the danger of Facebook Messenger Kids and Social Media for Kids?

According to a research at San Diego State University and Florida State University, the more time teens are exposed to smartphones the greater they are to experience depression.  It also shows a correlation between increasing use of smartphones, depression, and suicide.

 “I worry we’re introducing something to kids who really don’t need it.  I think that the ostensible purpose is wrong, which is to get them started young.” - Larry Rosen, a psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World

Personally, I believe that the actual effects of social media for kids depend on how active the parents are in monitoring them.  I did see effects of depression and change of behavior in my own children.  I also agree that at this early age personal social interaction is more important to develop real-world skills.

What about you?  What do you think of Messenger Kids?

Source and Reference:  MIT Technology Review

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