#MoodMeter: Messenger Kids, Do Our Children Really Need This?

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In a well rolled out attempt to permit children access to the internet and yet have parental controls, Facebook has launched a kid version of their popular messaging app.

The Facebook owned and powered app ‘Messenger Kids’ is touted to keep the young online and yet allow for parental supervision, but do our children need yet another technological addiction to live with?

“Messenger Kids, a new version of the popular communications app comes with parental controls, to help safeguard pre-teens who may be using unauthorized and unsupervised social-media accounts. Critics think Facebook is targeting children as young as 6 to hook them on its services,” quoted a monthly American Magazine.

Parents can download Messenger Kids through their child’s account, verify their identity by logging into Facebook and then connect and respond to friend requests.

“Facebook says Messenger Kids will not display ads, nor collect data on kids for advertising purposes. Kids’ accounts will not automatically be rolled into Facebook accounts once they turn 13. Facebook launched Messenger Kids for 6-to-12-year olds in the US for Iphone users.”

In 2015 Google also launched YouTube Kids, which includes advertising. Parents create an account for their child through Google’s Family Link, a product to help parents monitor screen time.

There have been incidents that prove that internet can be a dark place for children, full of bullies. Is the decision to roll out Messenger Kids as wise as it seems?

Here is what Puneites feel about this –

Tarveen Kaur: As it is there are many online applications, games and other things floating on the internet to lure children. Another application will only add to making children a sweet target and increase traffic. Although the parental control thing is appreciable, but that can be done already, by keeping a tab on your child and blocking unwanted sites at the internet provider itself. They have provided another platform to make kids stick to their devices and spoil their childhood. Kids who access Facebook illegally will anyway do it. But for those who don’t, they have made it easy and accessible to them. I believe that it is just a strategic approach to hook children early, to Facebook services.

Daaud Khan: Too much of anything is bad, even marketing initiatives and innovation. Why do we need this? Don’t kids have better things to collect than likes and comments on social media? There is a reason why we have age restrictions on many social platforms. With so much of competition and increased pressure on children, cant we just let them live their childhood and enjoy it?

Vishal Chawla: By introducing children that are as young as 7-year-old to this application, we are exposing them to the entire internet ecosystem. They can then lie about their age and can gain access to any website they want to. No one keeps a check on that. Also, the privacy policies are carefully added to the terms and conditions which most of us don’t read. Chances are that the information provided can be misused, making children vulnerable. It can be a planned framework to include everyone in the Facebook community and reduce the age limit to access the application.

Ankit Yadav: I think any sort of messenger should be kept beyond the reach of kids below 13 years old. We should discourage the use of social media amongst young kids as it may affect them both mentally and emotionally. We should help protect the innocence of young minds and encourage them more towards sports and character-building activities, rather than handing them a gadget which they are glued to, for the rest of their lives.

Manjiri Jayesh: Socialising is important for children, but actually meeting people and talking to them is more important – actually for all! Once they cross their adolescence, they are sure to access such applications, why introduce it at such young age as 6-years-old? Kids need to indulge in extra curricular activities, play outdoors which will help in their overall development. In my opinion, it is unethical to introduce an application for such young kids. More than the business benefits, the human aspect needs to be considered.

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#All views expressed in this column are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.

Loveleen Kaur

Loveleen Kaur

She loves travelling, dogs, sarcasm, humour and anything that spells F O O D, in that order. A writer on a journey to make positive stories a morning ritual and give society what it needs the most - optimism !!

Reach her at loveleen@pune365.com or tweet @KaurKaur18
Loveleen Kaur

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