As a parent, I know what it entails when kids connect with family and friends with using technology, therefore, it is important for us to know how safe they are whenever they are online. That’s why I’m excited about Facebook Messenger for kids. Facebook recently launched their messenger for kids and a lot of controversies has surrounded it. Critics say it will make and will help make kids addicted or addicted to social media.
This Facebook Messenger lets kids 6 to 13 years old, communicate with friends and family, so what are the parameters behind this? Before we delve into that let’s talk about these two things. If I said to a parent when you taught your kid to go to cross the street, did you show them once? Should we grab the hand, look both ways well before crossing the street. Did you do that once no, you did those hundreds of times. So the idea of taking anybody aged 6 years old and letting them do anything is insane to me. So that’s one thing! So, let’s get out of parenting first, let’s talk about technology. What they’re doing is they’re saying: look since you’re probably going to be online eventually. Here’s the safest place we can create for you to be online. I think that’s a noble goal, but I think that’s an impossible task because if you do it right you are addicting kids and if you do it wrong it’s even worse.
So there’s no right way for Facebook to do this because Facebook is also getting a lot of information, while our kids are on this. It’s right, that’s undeniable. The user license agreement clearly states that they’re able to look at that by the way. Even if you don’t remember Facebook is free, no it isn’t. Facebook uses your data to put the right ad in front of you now. This is an ad-free zone to their credit. Okay, so they’ve actually tried to craft a place where it is safe for 6 to 13 year old as a parent. Yes, you need to decide should a 6 to 13-year-old be in that environment yeah, especially because you know Facebook has been battling about this for a little while now.
It’s early exposure among young people to social media like this that can increase levels of depression, body image issues. We are talking about kids who are still communicating with each other over messenger, that’s correct, and all of all of that is a hundred century. Social media addiction is absolutely real and this requires some parental guidance. One thing I do want to say, though, when you look at what has gone on in Florida and the tragedy down there. One of the most interesting social media aspects of that is how these children have found a voice through that, and so you know when the Arab Spring happened years back and they called it social media revolution. Here we see a bunch of kids getting together and saying we have a voice and we can amplify our voice.
So there are two sides to this story, but Facebook Messenger for six-year-olds needs to be thought through, not as a technology but as a parental environment where you make a choice. It is just like a telephone. When you were growing up, did you have a telephone in your room as a six-year-old and did it by the way record what you were doing and then report it to a third party who might use your data later? Probably not, but this is the telephone of our age and parents need to make a decision. I don’t think you should listen to the experts. I think you should listen to yourself and say: is this the place I want my kid and if so, here’s how I’m going to monitor their actions in that environment.