Dear Mark,

I am a mom of three girls and I am writing to you following the news that Facebook has launched its new Messenger like app for children under the age of 13 which I read about in a BBC article earlier today.

I am furious Mark.

From what I’ve read, the main “justification” for having this new app is the fact that it is estimated that 20 million kids under the age of 13 are already using the main FB app, which I think everyone agrees is, as a platform, completely inappropriate for kids that young, so you guys figured it would make sense to create a new app tailored for children.

Although I get the argument that we can’t raise our kids in a bubble, in fact I am the first one to support openness and talking to our children about the ‘real world’ and preparing them for what’s out there rather than trying to shelter them from the world, I do wonder sometimes if we are not doing it all a little bit too soon?    

I mean, does a six year old REALLY need to learn about social media ‘etiquette’? My six year old still eats her own snot. 

And even if there are 20 million kids out there under the age of 13 who are already using the real FB, what about all the millions of kids who are NOT using it? What about them?

Aren’t we encouraging those kids to join social media by making it “age appropriate”? 

And if we are being really honest Mark then let’s face it, the truth is that the kids who are yet to join social media are your real target audience, not the 20 million who are already on regular FB. I mean, are you really expecting those 20 million to leave the normal FB and join the kiddie one? Of course not, that would be like expecting a heroin addict to smoke a joint instead.

I don’t think for one minute you are doing our kids any favors here. I don’t think you guys came up with this to help solve a problem. I think you guys were simply looking for a way to expand your market and you found it.

What’s next? Facebook for pets?

I’ll tell you something else Mark –  it does not matter that this new app needs parental approval for adding friends, or if it just a messenger app at the moment, if no ads are allowed or if it has a kid friendly library of appropriate images and GIFs etc. None of that matters when the bottom line is that it will open the door for millions of children as young as SIX YEARS OLD who are not on any type of social media platform at the moment, to the awful world of social media which includes online bullying, filtered and manipulated images, sitting in a room chatting to people on your phone without actually meeting up with them, popularity by number and addiction to technology.

Is that the world we really want to live in?!

Not me. 

Our kids need more reasons to go outside, climb trees, meet with actual people in real life and have experiences not just stare at a screen all day long.

Remember what that was like Mark? Don’t you miss it?

As a parent who had absolutely no intention in allowing my children to go on social media for a good few years, this makes my job so much harder now that there is a “kid friendly” app which will no doubt increase the already difficult to cope with peer pressure on our kids to do what their friends are doing. I can only imagine that there are millions of parents out there whose kids are not on FB who feel the same way. Parents who are trying to resist the technology pushers and let their kids be kids for just a little bit longer. 

I know you had your first child last year and I am asking you to be honest with me, from one parent to another Mark – will you let your own daughter go on Facebook when she is six years old?

I don’t think, then why encourage others?

Kind regards,

Tova  

(Image licensed from Istock)