Facebook urged to shut down chat platform made for kids

Facebook urged to shut down chat platform made for kids

The app, which debuted in December, was created as a workaround for parents who want to communicate with their children via Facebook, but can not use the regular version since federal law prohibits children under the age of 13 from signing up for the service.

In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, 19 groups - including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, ACLU of MA, and Parents Across America - called the company's move to launch the app "irresponsible", especially in light of research indicating that excessive use of social media is detrimental to children and teens.

The group and several other advocates cited the app's potential to encourage excessive use of digital devices and social media, especially in pre-school and elementary age children, and that it "will undermine children's healthy development".

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.

In addition to our research with thousands of parents, we've engaged with over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety and children's media and technology who've helped inform our approach to building our first app for kids. But Facebook's new kid-focused app, which features animations and emoji, seems to target a younger audience, said Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Facebook stressed Messenger Kids contains no advertising and said that parents who use the app say it helps them stay in touch with their children during work hours or when they are away. Child health advocates haven't warmed up to the idea and they're now calling on Facebook to shut down Messenger for Kids.

Parents who have had to moderate their children's screen time know it can be tough.

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Smoking, drinking too much, and spending too much time on digital media: none of these three things are good for you, and they definitely aren't good for our kids.

Experts are concerned about the effects that smartphones and social media apps have on people's physical and mental health. The company added that it had consulted with the National PTA, academics and several families before introducing the app.

Smartphone manufacturers should also be subject to more regulation, such as requiring that the age of the user be specified when the phone is set up.

More than 100 child experts sent an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pleading against Messenger Kids.

The effort is led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), an advocacy organization working to combat exploitative marketing to children.

We've worked extensively with parents and families to shape Messenger Kids and we're looking forward to learning and listening as more children and families start to use the iOS preview. The kids can use video and GIF tools in chats and even make calls to approved contacts. "Messenger Kids is not responding to a need - it is creating one", the groups wrote.

According to the child-health experts, social media use by teens is linked to significantly higher rates of depression.

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