Experts ask Facebook to get rid of its Messenger Kids app

Kids for children as young as 6 last month

Dozens of medical experts are warning parents not to let their kids use the new "Messenger Kids" app.

"We are writing to urge you to discontinue Messenger Kids", the open letter reads, coming just weeks after United Kingdom health secretary Jeremy Hunt urged Facebook to "stay away from my kids" over the new app.

"It is particularly irresponsible to encourage children as young as preschoolers to start using a Facebook product".

"Since we launched in December, we've heard from parents around the country that Messenger Kids has helped them stay in touch with their children and has enabled their children to stay in touch with family members near and far". When the kids version launched, Marcus told TechCrunch that Facebook hired a special team to build creative tools for kids, like fidget spinner and dinosaur augmented reality masks, as well as crayon-style stickers.

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Josh Golin, the executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, who organized the letter, acknowledged that Messenger Kids would become a popular app. The letter argues that Messenger Kids is likely to be the first platform children encounter, owing to Facebook's massive market reach.

"Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts". Is the app's target audience really ready for social media? Although Messenger Kids does not include ads and allows parental control of children's contact lists, it does not limit the amount of time kids can spend using it. Facebook's also stressed it doesn't collect information from children or display adverts within the app.

They said the company's influential products risk causing long-term physical or mental harm to children. Its aim is to introduce chat and video features to a younger group of users and give parents the ability to monitor who their kids interact with online. "I just feel like as a mother our job is to protect our children and keep them safe".

"Messenger Kids is not responding to a need - it is creating one", the letter states. But he stressed that children don't need to have their own social media accounts to connect with their relatives around the world. But the 11- and 12- year-olds who now use Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook are unlikely to switch to an app that is clearly designed for younger children.

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In a society increasingly reliant on cellphones, Apple's devices lack sufficient safeguards, the investors said. The group points toward issues like a lack of understanding about privacy and a lack of social development that could lead to conflicts in online relationships.

"We worked to create Messenger Kids with an advisory committee of parenting and developmental experts, as well as with families themselves and in partnership with National PTA", she said.

The statement cited examples of parents who work night shifts reading bedtime stories to their children through the app, and mothers who travel for work receiving daily updates from their children while they're out of town. "Almost half of parents say that regulating their child's screen time is a constant battle", the letter says.

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