Saying young children are “simply not ready” for social media, health experts and children’s advocates are urging Facebook to discontinue Messenger Kids, its new messaging app.
The app is aimed at children younger than 13, which until now has been the minimum age for users of Facebook and other social networks.
According to the Mercury News, when Facebook introduced it last month, there was no shortage of concern among parents, pediatricians and consumer advocates even though the company touted Messenger Kids as a tool to keep parents connected to their kids.
Now, advocacy groups have sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, dated Jan. 30.
“At a time when there is mounting concern about how social media use affects adolescents’ well being, it is particularly irresponsible to encourage children as young as preschoolers to start using a Facebook product,” the letter says.
Facebook continued to defend Messenger Kids.
“We worked to create Messenger Kids with an advisory committee of parenting and developmental experts, as well as with families themselves and in partnership with National PTA,” a spokeswoman said. “We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids be the best experience it can be for families.”
But “there’s a clear business rationale,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to children’s online safety. “They’re trying to get kids hooked early.”
It worked for Joe Camel.