Major Concerns as Facebook Releases Messenger Kids for Users Under 13
World’s leading social media company, Facebook has launched Messenger Kids, an app that will allow it accommodate new users that are below 13 years old, its previous minimum age boundary. The announcement of the app was made yesterday by David Marcus, Facebook’s head of Messenger, on Twitter.
Thrilled to launch Messenger Kids. An app designed for kids 6-12 to connect with their family and friends, with parental controls to ensure they do so safely. It includes realtime video chat with AR effects for more fun! pic.twitter.com/r9Lb9w6R6G
— David Marcus (@davidmarcus) December 4, 2017
Messenger Kids is designed for kids between the ages of 6 and 12. It will allow them to connect with their family and friends (just like every other person). it is built with parental controls to ensure that they surf the social media platform safely. It also includes real-time video chat that has AR effects for more fun!
This new app will give Facebook a slight market edge as it offers the opportunity to win brand loyalty among kids (just ahead of everyone) at a time when it faces competition for teenagers from other social media platforms such as Snapchat. The plan is to automatically convert the accounts to full-fledged ones as soon as they become 13.
Quite powerful strategically speaking. Incentivizes parents to become Facebook salespeople and counter the millennial abandonment of Facebook by “attacking” them in their pre-teens
— Itsnotak (@Itsnotak1) December 4, 2017
This is a unique opportunity for parents that want to open accounts for their kids and help them keep a collection of their life experiences from childhood that they can interact with when they grow. Facebook Messenger Kids requires parents to set up an account and approve their children’s contacts.
The app (although on child’s devices) can be controlled with a parent’s Facebook account. It will allow kids to use video chat, send photos, videos or text messages to friends only after they have been approved by their parents.
However, like every other opportunity, this innovation is not without challenges and potential threats. Many people have already begun to point them out aplenty. And, there genuine questions to be asked.
The first is the question of ads. Will the kids be spared?
Hi David, it's great that parents can ensure safe communication and kids get access to such a powerful messaging platform. Will their communications be used for ad targeting purposes, or do kids have different ad policies than adults?
— Ziad Ramley (@ziadramley) December 4, 2017
What are the ad targeting policies? I assume the parent gets targeted with the ads? Seems like more data mining disguised within a communication learning tool.
— Geoffrey Colon (@djgeoffe) December 4, 2017
And, some more complex questions:
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) December 5, 2017
Some other just think it is unnecessary:
Something is wrong here David. Coercing kids aged 6 to 12 into addictive apps crosses a very real line, even for @facebook
— Christopher Plowman (@christoplowman) December 4, 2017
Coming from a father of 3 under the ages of 8, this app is totally unnecessary. Communication between family and friends usually happen face to face at school or via Skype if family member doesn't live nearby.
— Nelly (@NellyDogman) December 4, 2017
Children don't need your product, they need to go out and play.
— Franti.swift (@frantisan) December 4, 2017
Facebook claims that it had consulted with 1,200 parents and online security and child development specialists, the US National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop before the app had been released.
I interviewed 2000 toddlers about their favorite social media platforms and apps and not one of them asked for Facebook messenger for kids
— Your Fave Dave (me) (@Aerocles) December 4, 2017
For now, it is only available in the United States and only on iOS.
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