Just as we’re starting to learn the many downsides to turning over every piece of our personal data to social media platforms, Facebook has come up with a way to start kids even younger.
Facebook’s “Messenger Kids” is a new app that lets kids message a pre-approved list of contacts with text, videos and photos, expanding its reach to the 13-and-under market. So far it’s only available in the U.S. and on iOS.
Facebook says it worked closely with parents, security experts, child development specialists and even Sesame Workshop to develop the app over 18 months, according to Reuters.
“There’s really a gap in the market for a messaging app for kids that also gives parents control,” Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson said. “We’re going to see how kids are using it, and that will allow us to add updates in future versions as necessary.”
Facebook understandably wants to get kids to commit to Facebook as early as possible, particularly in light of the rise of hipper social media platforms like Snapchat. But is making it easier for kids to inhabit the twisted world of social media as young as possible really such a good idea? Even under the guise of parental control?
YouTube is already a notoriously dangerous place for kids. At the end of November, the video platform deleted 150,000 videos “targeted by child predators,” according to USA Today. Facebook is increasingly under fire for its role in pushing Russian ads in the run-up to the 2016 election.
We haven’t really sorted out the true cost of social media. So why would parents have an interest in pushing their kids onto Facebook as early as 6 years old?
“If you’re not the customer, you’re the product” is more than a worn out trope. Parents would be smart to remember that when we put our kids on these platforms, we’re putting them, and their data, up for sale.
Featured image: Pixabay