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Child Experts: Just Say 'No' To Facebook's Kids App (apnews.com) 84

A group letter sent Tuesday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg argues that younger children -- the app is intended for those under 13 -- aren't ready to have social media accounts, navigate the complexities of online relationships or protect their own privacy. From a report: Facebook launched the free Messenger Kids app in December, pitching it as a way for children to chat with family members and parent-approved friends. It doesn't give kids separate Facebook or Messenger accounts. Rather, the app works as an extension of a parent's account, and parents get controls such as the ability to decide who their kids can chat with. The social media giant has said it fills "a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want."

But a group of 100 experts, advocates and parenting organizations is contesting those claims. Led by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the group includes psychiatrists, pediatricians, educators and the children's music singer Raffi Cavoukian. "Messenger Kids is not responding to a need -- it is creating one," the letter states. "It appeals primarily to children who otherwise would not have their own social media accounts."

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Child Experts: Just Say 'No' To Facebook's Kids App

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  • We kids will control who our parents communicate with!

    • Re:who controls? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NewWorldDan ( 899800 ) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:49PM (#56033577) Homepage Journal

      We were setting up our new XBox and my kid said, "I'm going to say on my account that I'm 21 so I can get M rated games." The fact is, by the time kids are 10, they have figured out that they can watch anything or use any service just by changing their birthday.

      Most kids aren't that interested in Facebook. That's something that their parents and grandparents use. They've cobbled together their own social media experience with platforms that I've never heard of. Some may want to be on Facebook, but apparently not my kid or any of her friends. That's something that Facebook is genuinely worried about. Their success is mostly built on inertia. If they don't grab the next generation early, those kids will go do something else and soon Facebook is reduced to MySpace.

      • Re:who controls? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @02:24PM (#56034439)

        Facebook offers little that the next gen wants. Facebook didn't manage to make the leap onto the cellphone smoothly, which is essentially the tool younger (under 20) people use to stay in touch with each other. The thing closest to a computer they use, aside of gaming consoles, is maybe a touchpad.

        Facebook isn't quite a mobile app. Yes, yes, it has a mobile app, but face it, it sucks. It's too bulky, too unwieldy and too overloaded, and the next gen users don't want that, it seems. They want apps that do what they want to do NOW, do it well and everything aside of that, there's another app for that that does that well. Simple interfaces without having to dig through 6 menus to get to what you want to do NOW is what they want. If that means running 10 apps that you switch between with the flick of a finger, so be it.

  • Title adjustment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:23PM (#56033375) Journal
    Experts: Just Say 'No' To Facebook
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @12:42PM (#56033533)

    They’re basically now at the point where they’ve mostly addicted the older generation, so to maintain long-term profits they need to invent ways to hook the younger generation before they get old enough to think for themselves and realize that Facebook is dumb (and mainly populated with old people nowadays).

    • I am (technically) an Old Person now; I dumped Failbook years ago and never looked back, and encourage others to do the same. So much for statistics, I guess?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ideas for anti-Facebook advertising campaigns?

      Mine: "Facebook is for lemmings. Don't be a lemming."

      Though I think many of those on Facebook are too stupid to know what a lemming is and what the word implies, so there has to be a better one for *those* people.

  • Are just making vague generalizations. I know when I was 10 there was no Facebook, but I got an E-mail account,
    and I got on Internet Relay Chat, became a regular in dozens of channels --- started helping out users with their technical troubles and abuse issues.

    A few years later I was a DALnet Oper and Svs Admin: that was until two events involving DDoS and politics obliterated the pair of servers
    whose teams I was on from the network.

    I saw the worst of the worst, and turned out just fine, and I did

    • Good luck getting a society of folks who are too lazy to develop a means to remember their own password(s, hopefully) to follow suit...
    • Re:Child "Experts" (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@DALIyahoo.com minus painter> on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @01:28PM (#56033981)

      Consider the difference in timing, both technically and societally. IRC gave you your first foray into tech support. You were amongst the sort of people who used technology in the late 80's and early 90's, back when distrust on the internet was the default. It was a great time to use the internet. Both IRC and DALnet were not dependent on a multibillion dollar company to access, and while those rooms may have been moderated, they were not curated. You had an e-mail account...where the spam filter was likely between your ears.

      You saw the worst of the worst and identified it as such because you knew there wasn't a filter and it was your responsibility to act accordingly. Facebook Kids gives the parents the assumption that Facebook is doing some amount of curating, which means that everyone up the child's chain of trust says "it must be okay".

      When you were an adolescent, there were no watchmen. Now, there are watchmen, and someone needs to watch the watchmen. And that is the difference.

    • What does your example have to do with at-risk kids being cyber-bullied and killing themselves? Not much apparently.
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        What does your example have to do with at-risk kids being cyber-bullied and killing themselves?

        What you call "cyber bullying" is not new, but a frequent thing that happened on the internet back into the '90s.
        I don't want to make light of suicides, but it's not even a realistic risk: kids aren't killing themselves over cyberbullying
        unless they already are behaviorally deficient or have a mental disease or other major real-life problems --- Real-Life bullying at school is the bigger risk,
        and "cyberbul

        • Teen suicides are at all time highs.
          • by mysidia ( 191772 )

            Teen suicides are at all time highs.

            That's basically an irrelevent figure -- or no causality can be inferred from it.... given the
            poor economic figures, increasing number of single-parent families, and steady exponential
            population growth in the US (Increasing quantity and density of people);
            MANY variables will be at or near all time highs.

            It certainly doesn't require manufacturing new complicated imaginary culprits like "cyberbullying" or "remote abuse" to explain.
            Physical bullying or physical/sexual a

    • Re:Child "Experts" (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2018 @02:35PM (#56034531) Homepage Journal

      Well, I don't know what it takes to be a "child expert", but presumably it takes more than having had a childhood. One thing that having a business taught me about customers, and by extension people in general, is that you can't take it for granted that your own experiences and preferences are universal, or even typical.

      And in any case I don't think the real problem with children -- particularly teenagers -- is them seeing bad things, although that's a kind of weird cultural obsession we have.

      • Agree completely. It looks like most of these arguments boil down to "kids today don't grow up the way they used to, so it must be a bad thing".
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        is that you can't take it for granted that your own experiences and preferences are universal, or even typical.

        Fair enough.... but maybe just maybe the parent closer to their specific child's experiences would be a better judge than the recommendations of questionable merit from some prescriptive experts.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          As a parent you have to do both: trust your own judgment referring to your own memories and experience, and seek out the experience and knowledge of others. Parenting is an exercise in critical thinking, and that applies both to understanding the limitations of your own experience and the limitations of the findings of people regarded as "experts".

          You do your best as a parent, and part of that is seeking out other points of view, although not necessarily accepting them wholesale. You filter them through y

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Well, I don't know what it takes to be a "child expert", but presumably it takes more than having had a childhood.

        It seems like the "qualification" is in part to be an activist, some may have studied child development ---- that doesn't necessarily mean they are right, and many may be biased from personal views that don't come from or aren't really reflecting their expertise.

        From what I see the letterhead shows the organization name: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, So what kind of position do

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          It's easy enough to see the background of the people who work for Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood by going to the website and reading the staff biographies.

  • The better question is whether we want to teach our kids that early in life to prize the superficial, no-strings, unfulfilling "connections" that Facebook, etc. enable.

    If you're fed nothing but processed white bread when you're a kid, chances are you'll carry that into adulthood.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember my first cigarette. It was August, I was on summer break and I was 8 years old. That first drag of the half used cigarette I found on the ground outside the bus station was surprisingly smooth. I always thought that cigarettes would taste bad because they smell so bad, but the smoothness of R. J. Reynolds Brand Camel cigarettes is peerless. Fast forward 35 years later and I am completely addicted to refreshing FaceBook in my browser. God damn you Zuckerberg, you fucking cancer!

  • by Stan92057 ( 737634 )
    FB is using this program to farm/groom users of tomorrow..Just like a pedos would do,offer free candy,toys and ..... would love to read the TOS and what data they collect too.
    • I would've compared it more to the average drug dealer, but the method is quite similar.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why do people say this? I've never seen a drug dealer give away drugs, ever.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    *They* always get you through schools. this messenger will become way for teachers to interact with kids.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra