The dangers of social media continue to be a hot topic, and Facebook is one of many platforms that have been right at the center of these discussions. According to Associated Press, the world's largest social network is facing pressure from experts in child development to scrap the kid-friendly version of their popular messaging app.
A group of both experts and advocates recently sent a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg claiming that the app, meant for children under 13, is a danger to their privacy and development and should be discontinued. The app launched in December and is, for all accounts, monitored by parents, functioning as an add-on to their existing accounts and allowing them to control who their child can and cannot talk to. Currently, Facebook users must be at least 13 to use the platform, so the app is being pitched as giving younger kids a way to still keep in touch with friends and family, complete with emojis and games. The age restrictions are based on a federal law that restricts how companies can advertise to children makes it illegal to collect information from them without their parents' permission.
The group, consisting of educators, psychiatrists, and pediatricians, maintains that Facebook is trying to do exactly that by "targeting younger children with a new product." An excerpt from the 10-page letter reads:
Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts. They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among more mature users. They also do not have a fully developed understanding of privacy, including what's appropriate to share with others and who has access to their conversations, pictures, and videos.
On Monday, Facebook released a statement addressing concerns about the app, reiterating that it's a safe way for kids to chat online and that parents are "always in control." They also denied the existence of ads in the app.