Dear Mark Zuckerberg:
I urge you to discontinue the Facebook Messenger Kids app.
Messenger Kids appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts. It is not responding to a need - it is creating one.
Research shows that managing digital devices and social media is a real challenge for older children; younger children are simply not ready to navigate online relationships and privacy.
Almost half of parents say that regulating their child’s screen time is a constant battle. Messenger Kids will exacerbate this problem, as the anticipation of friends’ responses will be a powerful incentive for children to check – and stay on – a phone or tablet. Encouraging kids to move their friendships online will interfere with and displace the face-to-face interactions and play that are crucial for building healthy developmental skills, including the ability to read human emotion, delay gratification, and engage with the physical world.
In response to some of the scandals of the past year, you have vowed to “do better.” Doing better is leaving younger children alone and allowing them to develop without the pressures that come with social media use. Raising children in our new digital age is difficult enough. Facebook should not use it’s enormous reach and influence to make it even harder.