When Facebook launched Messenger Kids, its app intended for children under the age of 13, many experts and health advocates raised the alarm over its potential problems. After all, children under 13 aren’t even allowed to use the regular version Facebook. How would it affect kids’ minds using the platform so young? That’s the point raised by Harvard psychologist Susan Linn in a recent op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that blasted the app and insisted the company get rid of it.
According to Linn, too much time spent on social media has been linked to adolescent depression, dissatisfaction with appearance and a host of other troubling psychological problems. Not to mention, the app might not even attract kids anyway; a report from 2011 indicated that 7.5 million kids lied about their age to get on Facebook. If it’s that easy for children to skirt Facebook’s rules and use the real thing, why would they settle for the kiddie version?
Besides the mental health concerns, there are also obvious potential problems with safety and privacy risks in the app.
“Although Facebook claims that Messenger Kids is safe and ad-free, there’s no guarantee the app will stay that way,” Linn wrote. “And the app itself is, of course, marketing the Facebook brand to children.”
As Linn points out, it’s obvious why Facebook wants to get kids. The problem is, should kids want to get Facebook?