When Facebook announced they were introducing a kid-friendly version of their famous Messenger, we knew there would be some pushback from advocacy groups. Here is the first one that we know of, at least. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has asked the social media giant to discontinue the app as it may actually “undermine children’s healthy development” and that “younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts.” Facebook has probably not responded yet, although they’ve previously made arguments against expected claims like this.
There has been a lot of research and think pieces about the dangers of having so much screen time for children. The advocacy group refers to this “growing body of research” to support their proposal that Facebook shut down the Messenger Kids app so as not to contribute to kids having too much social media and gadgets interaction. Some children may still have a lack of understanding of the concepts of privacy and some may also experience lack of social development due to too much screen time.
For its part, Facebook had already previous emphasized that Messenger Kids is not actually a social media app but rather a way for kids to communicate with loved ones and approved contacts who may not be living near them. They also said that these studies say that passive consumption is the danger with social media for kids and since this means directly interacting with people, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has said that there are other ways for kids to communicate with loved ones who live far and that is through basic things like picking up the phone or even going on Skype calls. And if they really need Messenger, they can just use their parents’ accounts. Let’s see if pressure from advocacy groups will make Facebook backtrack.