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Facebook, spare children the trauma of social media; they need to enjoy life

Facebook is readying your children for a lifelong dependency on its product.

facebook-messenger-kids

Highlights

  • Facebook announced a Messenger app for children.

  • Aimed at kids aged 13 or under.

If you give a little spin to your imagination, we are like these creatures, whose ruling power has suddenly shifted. And it all seems to have been trapped in this little device called smartphones. However, for you may be misled, the ruling power is not that device, it are these little apps, that are now commanding your brains. Like predators, if I may say. That is not to say that the apps are predating you to death, but they are certainly thriving over your life.

While I may have said it differently, this is not something that hasn’t been said before. Talking about Facebook here, it’s not unknown that with two billion monthly active users, it’s an app that get people perpetually glued to their screens. Our day begins with endless scrolls. It’s intruded conversations we have with our near and dear ones. Our minds are enslaved to Facebook. Mine is. And I’m sure you’re no different in this digital age.

And let’s face it. We all resisted the idea of social networking to real friends in the initial days of experience with it. But over time, we’ve turned into digital zombies ourselves. I find myself without a will of my own. I say this despite not being someone who regularly posts updates on Facebook. Neither do I compulsively post images. I can’t possibly remember the last time I posted something on the platform. I solely look at animal videos on Facebook. My point being the level of deep rootedness Facebook has on our minds.

I’ve turned into a digital zombie myself, without a will of my own.

Now, while we have been invaded, Facebook isn’t stopping there. The social networking platform is now coming for your children!

Facebook Messenger for children?

Just last week, Facebook announced a Messenger app for children, called Messenger Kids. And just minutes after Facebook announced the app, you could feel the collective ire of the internet. Messenger Kids, set to debut December 11, is a stripped version of Facebook’s primary chat app. Unlike the version adults use, this one is built for those 13-and-under, kids who can’t, legally-speaking, create their own accounts.

At its surface, the app is innocent enough. Kids can send photos, videos, and instant messages (presumably) to other kids on the network. They can draw on their creations, add stickers, and enjoy most of what they’re already doing (illegally) on apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram — all of which have explicit language prohibiting children under 13 from using them.

While on Facebook, the platform denies access to children under 13, that isn’t exactly an attempt at taking the moral high ground. According to the Children’s Online Protection Act (COPPA), any website collecting information about its users is prohibited to do so with kids 13 and younger.

However, regardless, Facebook has tried to tip-toe from aside this rule, and created an app, which it thing fits a child younger than 13. But you do see what it’s doing? By indoctrinating those under 13 into the Facebook ecosystem through use of its new app, the social network hopes to groom the next generation to be addicted to this virtual drug. And this push for bringing children on board is when we have teenagers live streaming suicides on Facebook.

Facebook isn’t attempting to sell your kids a toy or just about any app, it’s taking them in for life

While Facebook’s motivations are obvious, it’s newfound obsession with attracting an ever-younger audience is disturbing in so many ways. Facebook isn’t attempting to sell your kids a toy or just about any app, it’s taking them in for life. It is like that tree in the forest in The Stranger Things, which is the opening to the upside down. You don’t just visit the tree and come back, once you get there, that may just be it.

While I sit here arguing about how terrible could this move be for children, thousands, perhaps millions, of parents willfully allow their child access to the social network even though the terms of service expressly prohibits lying about age to create an account.

Some years ago, a study revealed that 76 percent of the parents surveyed allowed their children to create an account while younger than 13. Of them, 53 percent said they were aware Facebook had a minimum sign-up age, and 35 percent believed the minimum age to be merely a suggestion. Now, this raises some serious questions on awareness about the shortcomings of social media.

To be honest, it is very appalling to see how and why are we not scrutinizing the decision to allow children to join before they fully understand what’s at stake. If Facebook, or social media in general, are responsible for our growing chagrin, imagine the consequences for a generation that never knew a world without it.

  • Published Date: December 11, 2017 5:22 PM IST