Facebook was criticized this week for “irresponsibly” targeting young kids with a new Snapchat-like app called Messenger Kids. A group of children’s health advocates wrote an open letter to the company urging it to pull the plug on the new tool, which targets under-13 users.
The letter to Facebook founder and COO Mark Zuckerberg was signed by individuals and 19 nonprofits. The coalition of groups wrote that it would be “irresponsible” to encourage children so young to use Facebook. Doing so would undermine their healthy development, according to the experts, increasing rates of depression, body image issues and poor sleeping habits. The experts also wrote that children aren’t capable of adequately processing the dangers of social media.
“Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts,” the coalition wrote. “They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships… They also do not have a fully developed understanding of privacy, including what’s appropriate to share with others and who has access to their conversations, pictures, and videos.”
This tool is undeniably an effective way for the company to guarantee a future generation of users, but the ethics of it are questionable. Hopefully this letter helps Facebook come to its senses — after all, doesn’t the site have enough users as it is?