Facebook has launched a new application aimed at children under 13, and it’s already attracting a strange mix of criticism and praise. “Messenger Kids” will allow children under the age of 13 to access Facebook’s messenger platform through a parent’s Facebook account.
The “Snapchat-like” interface is designed for kids to send each other text, photo and video messages. It looks colourful and fun. Many people see it as a way for Facebook to gain back its dwindling share of young users (it’s been losing feathers to the likes of Snapchat).
The main feature of Messenger Kids is that the parent holding the “main account” gets to decide exactly who their child is chatting with. Its slogan couldn’t be more obvious: “Safe Kids Chat App”…
Above that, messages can’t be hidden or deleted, so if a parent want to check in to see what their kid is taking about, they can always do so.
Facebook for Kids?
When should young children start to get access to social media? It’s a question that is dividing experts. On one hand, social media addiction is a real issue, and many would urge parents to err on the side of caution and keep children away from it until they reach a certain age.
On the other hand, everyone in this modern world will eventually be exposed to the Internet, with everything that implies. Kids will eventually need to become digitally literate if they want to succeed. Maybe it’s better if children’s first steps with social media are taken under close parental surveillance?
Another reason Facebook is aggressively pushing a child-friendly platform is that they want to build loyalty from a young age. When a “Messenger Kids” account holder turns 13, they’ll be able to switch over to a full Facebook account. Facebook is betting many kids will choose to do that instead of staying on other social networks, such as Snapchat.