Health experts urge Facebook to discontinue 'Messenger Kids'

Health experts urge Facebook to discontinue 'Messenger Kids'

Child health experts have urged Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to scrap Messenger Kids, a social media app aimed at children under the age of 13. Led by the Boston-based Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators and one children's music singer have teamed up to send Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter.

Non-profit organization Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is leading this campaign against Messenger Kids, arguing that launching an app specifically targeted at preschoolers is particularly irresponsible.It also started a public petition seeking to gain more supporters in its fight against Messenger Kids. Facebook's also stressed it doesn't collect information from children or display adverts within the app.

While Facebook typically requires users to be at least 13 to use its products, Messenger Kids is designed for the younger ones, allowing them to piggyback on their parent's account and talk only to parent-approved contacts. "It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts", the letter reads.

The signatories said children are not prepared for online relationships and lack an understanding of privacy and the appropriateness of sharing texts, pictures and videos.

Facebook's global head of safety Antigone Davis has responded to the letter by saying that the company has made Messenger Kids as safe as possible for kids by collaborating with child health experts. Following its introduction last month, child health experts and groups are urging Facebook to kill off its Messenger Kids app.

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.

The letter cites a variety of studies that have demonstrated the effects of social media usage among teens, quoting various side effects including depressions, unhappiness, unhealthy sleep habits, and even eating disorders.

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.

"We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids be the best experience it can be for families".

Many said it's ultimately up to the parent to grant access to the app or not.

What do you think of Messenger Kids? 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. They can also just pick up a phone ...

"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", the experts write. The groups and individuals who oppose Messenger Kids are attempting to seize on that momentum and prompt a shift at Facebook and the industry. Rather, the app works as an extension of a parent's account, and parents get controls such as the ability to decide who their kids can chat with.

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