Facebook’s plans to launch an app for children have been slammed with one of the most powerful weapons in the world today: the open letter.
Aimed at those aged under 13, Messenger Kids is the social media firm’s attempt to shore up the last outpost of the population currently barred from its charms – the very young.
However, over 110 teachers, medics and child health experts have signed a letter sent to Facebook king Mark Zuckerberg that warns of ‘a growing body of research’ that demonstrates that ‘excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens, making it very likely this new app will undermine children’s healthy development’.
According to the letter, the very young are ‘simply not ready to have social media accounts. They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among more mature users.’ Fair point – adults frequently meltdown, unravel and suffer greatly on social media, so goodness knows what it might do to children.
The letter highlights recent research that suggests social media use is linked with teenage depression, while ‘eighth graders who use social media for 6-9 hours per week are 47% more likely to report they are unhappy than their peers who use social media less often’.
Of course, concerns about the perhaps devastating effect of Messenger Kids on the minds of the young are one thing – but what about Facebook’s natural right and need to make a great deal of money? We’ll just have to wait and see how they react to the letter, won’t we.