Child advocates urge Facebook to end Messenger Kids
More than 100 child advocates, civil society groups, medical experts and other individuals are urging Facebook to discontinue its Messenger app for kids, alleging that the software poses health and development risks to children.
Organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, nineteen groups, including Common Sense Media and Public Citizen, have signed a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that will be sent on Tuesday. The initiative is the latest example of critics opposing early adoption of digital technology and is playing out amid a broader backlash against the rising influence of Silicon Valley.
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. Citing research that suggests a link between social media use and higher rates of depression among teens, the letter states it would be irresponsible for Facebook to expose preschool-aged children to a similar service. In addition, the signatories expressed concerns over boosting the screen time of young children and said this would interfere with crucial developmental skills such as reading human emotion, delaying gratification and engaging with the physical world.