Facebook released a kid-friendly version of its standalone Messenger app on Monday, Dec. 4 to mixed reviews.
The app, dubbed Messenger Kids, is a free video and messaging application for kids between the ages of 9 – 11. This is the first service from social media giant which is designed for users under the age of 13 – the minimum age requirement for a Facebook profile.
According to the app’s official website, parents have complete control over who can and cannot contact their child using the app and is designed to help the younger members of your family keep in contact with their loved ones using a tablet or smartphone.
With technology and social media playing such an important role in our society and an active role in modern childhood development, it was only a matter of time before one of the major social media players would release a platform for younger children.
With only a few days on the market, the initial reviews appear to be relatively positive.
“I like this app because it is like the best thing ever because it is like kids first social media app and I think it’s super safe because your parents have to sign in with their Facebook account and I think they can see everything you do,” said App Store user Brant27.
However, not everyone is as optimistic about actively exposing young children to social media – even if it is only with family and close friends.
“In my research, clinical work and friendships, I’ve never heard parents say that they want their child using social media earlier,” said Jenny Radesky, assistant professor, pediatrics at the University of Michigan, in an interview with Fox News.
This hesitation is understandable. Although social media has been a norm in society for many years now, the internet and social media in particular is always expanding, allowing for new, unchaperoned exposure to the internet and the possible threats associated with them.
In an effort to help protect children from unwanted or unhealthy online communication, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a clinical report in 2011 which outlines some basic rules and guidelines to help parents make informed decisions regarding their children and social media.
“For some teens and tweens, social media is the primary way they interact socially, rather than at the mall or a friend’s house,” said Gwenn O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP, co-author of the clinical report. “A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones. Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children’s online world – and comfortably parent in that world.”
If parents are shopping around the idea of allowing their preteen children the option to participate in social media, the Facebook Messenger Kids app is probably one of the safest bests on the marketplace because unlike start-ups or low-budget applications, Facebook’s size and experience with online safety give it a leg up against its competitors.
Would you allow your child to download this app? Let us know in the comments below!