Facebook wants to get young kids hooked on social media, and we need your help to stop them.
In December, Facebook rolled out Messenger Kids, the first major social media app for children under 13. Today, CCFC sent Facebook a letter signed by more than 100 leading experts and advocates detailing how Messenger Kids will undermine children’s healthy development.
Facebook Messenger Kids has no lower age limit. Given Facebook’s enormous reach, the app is likely to normalize social media use by kids as young as five. But there’s a wealth of research linking adolescent social media use to depression, poor sleep habits, and unhealthy body image – and younger children are even less equipped to deal with the interpersonal challenges and addictive power of social media.
Messenger Kids’ emojis, colorful stickers, and animations are designed to draw and hold children’s attention even if they’re too young to type. Kids will want to stay on the app for its fun design, and because it’s where their friends are. But moving friendships online displaces the genuine interactions crucial for developing empathy and healthy relationships. And the app’s enticements will make it harder to set screen time limits, something more than half of parents already say is a “constant battle.”
Facebook asserts that Messenger Kids will provide a safe alternative for the kids who have been lying their way onto social media platforms designed for teens and adults. But the 11- and 12-year-olds already on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook won’t switch to an app clearly designed for young kids. Messenger Kids is not responding to a need. It’s creating one.