Experts Pan Facebook’s Messenger Kids App

From the great Axios newsletter:

Child development experts and advocates are urging Facebook to pull the plug on its new messaging app aimed at kids, AP reports:

  • “A group letter sent [today] to CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues that younger children — the app is intended for those under 13 — aren’t ready to have social media accounts, navigate the complexities of online relationships or protect their own privacy.”
  • “Facebook launched the free Messenger Kids app in December, pitching it as a way for children to chat with family members and parent-approved friends. It doesn’t give kids separate Facebook or Messenger accounts. 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.”
  • The letter, signed by psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators and the children’s music singer Raffi Cavoukian: “Messenger Kids is not responding to a need — it is creating one … It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts.”
  • Facebook’s response: The app “helps parents and children to chat in a safer way.” Parents are “always in control … [T]here is no advertising in Messenger Kids.”
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