So much debate is surrounding this topic. I am sure everyone has seen the meme circulating on social media with the two groups of kids standing side by side saying “glad I grew up like this, not this.” Showing kids playing outside next to an image of a group of kids all on their phones. It’s the go play outside vs. the go play on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Is there such a thing as too much technology too soon, or not?
So is technology a good thing for the youth of today, or are they spending too much time on devices instead of good old fashioned playing with their friends? There have been arguments that exposing children to technology helps with creativity, but that it can also hurt. These same arguments have been made on the other side as well. That when kids don’t have a device to entertain them, they have to find a way to occupy their time, and as a result, enhancing their creativity. You can speak with parents, experts, physiologist or people in all areas that feel very passionately about one side over the other.
It doesn’t really mean that someone is right or someone is wrong, but that doesn’t stop people from having their opinions. It also doesn’t stop companies from coming out with tech based solutions aimed towards kids, because there is always a lot of demand from the kids. I think if you ask the kids, they are all about the technology.
Who’s currently in the spotlight?
Facebook once again finds itself in the news and the main topic of conversation about it’s latest creation for kids.
If you are a user of Facebook, you know what Facebook messenger is. Well, you may or may not be aware of the fact that in order to be on Facebook or use Facebook messenger, you have to be 13 years of age or older. This is common across all social media, but can be worked around by putting in a different birth year. I’m sure we could all most likely identify someone under the age of 13 on a social media platform. Well, SnapChat has developed SnapKidz, for kids that are under the age of 13 to use, and now Facebook has Messenger Kids.
Messenger Kids is only a few months old, but is already catching a lot of heat from people on how it’s not good for kids. The team at Facebook has stated in an interview with TechCrunch that a lot of research and development went into creating this kind friendly app. The creation, in Facebook’s eyes, was developed in an effort to make it easier to allow families to connect with one another; to have the entire family in a group chat, or to allow kids to more easily connect with grandparents or other family members they might not see all the time.
The Facebook team also takes the safety and security of kids who would use the app of very high importance. The app is for kids age 6 – 12, and parents would be able to have visibility and control over what their kids are doing on the app and who they are messaging. The team at Facebook feels that they took every precaution that they needed to by having teams of experts come in to help with design. David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products, defends the app as he has been using it in his own family and says that he’s been more connected with his daughter. He states that they use it on a daily basis and it has helped with better communication. Marcus also says that this is really not considered to be social media app, but a messaging app instead. The way he sees it, he is not sure why Facebook is taking so much heat for this app.
Heat might just be an understatement considering what has been talked about in the media in the past few weeks about this, with some calling for Facebook to remove the app all together. Over a dozen organizations and 100 health experts are what make up the group calling for its removal. They feel it’s hard enough to navigate children in the digital age without having to worry about Facebook’s mass reach and possible persuasion from advertisers.
The other large fear is that kids are not learning how to communicate in person and develop relationships. Some physiologist are claiming that the use of a messaging app like this are potentially stunting emotional health and growth, with more kids having more ways to hide behind a screen instead of making actual human connections.
Why target Facebook?
This is what doesn’t seem to have the clarity. With SnapChat having a platform available for the same audience, they haven’t seemed to come under as much heat and scrutiny as Facebook. So, is there a biased opinion towards Facebook, or is there a difference in the app and the usage of the app that is drawing the attention? The backlash is coming from the people who are looking at the app as Facebook’s method to draw in a younger audience to it’s platform, to then encourage more users to want to take to the platform at the age of 13.
Facebook looks at this more as the opportunity to help bring the family together while also allowing the parents to have control, saying that if children are going to take to the internet and apps, at least they are provided a kid and parent friendly option.
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