Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is convinced about expanding its Messenger Kids app despite heavy criticism from child advocacy groups. The company says it will be rolling it out in other regions outside of the US, particularly Canada and Peru. As if this is not enough, the kid-friendly messaging app will have additional features including a debut of Spanish and French language versions. Other features include a “Messenger Kids Pledge” and” Kindness Stickers.”
The app, which is currently available in three countries, hit the market in December. According to the social networking giant, the app’s modification will give an incredible experience while chatting with friends. The improved features, on the other hand, will help in promoting respect and empathy.
Messenger Kids is basically for children too young to sign up for Facebook
Facebook’s target of its new up are the children under 13 year; those who cannot open Facebook accounts. In fact, it is a modified version of Facebook’s Messenger app, thus it will require the involvement of the user’s parent. According to the company, the parents will help their children with online manipulation of the app, for example in approving friend requests.
Apparently, the parent can manage the app directly from their Facebook accounts. Thus, they can easily correct anything going amiss. Previously, children have yearned for apps commonly used by adults or older teens such as Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP) chat or Instagram. However, the new app has guidelines, which will not only ensure safety but they will also promote fun. Besides, children will only interact with approved people.
Criticism by a coalition of advocacy groups
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Despite all the goodies the Messenger Kids app is bringing to the children’s world, it has come under massive criticism. Various advocacy groups have written to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding that the app should be brought down. Researchers have also indicated how unsafe excessive use of digital devices and social media is to the children.
With the current cases of online bullying, it is not clear whether or not the app has any preventive measures. In one of their letters, the groups have stated, “Younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts. They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships.”
Other concerns raised include the fact that the children are not ready for navigation and complexities, which come along with online accounts. Meaning, the likelihood of being carried away is very high.
However, Facebook has responded to the concerns citing that its aim is to have kids express their emotions in creative ways. Nonetheless, it will not just bypass the concerns, thus listening to parents, experts, as well as critics, will be of importance. The company says that its aim is to promote healthy social behaviors while creating positive connections between kids and their friends.