What parents need to know about the new “Messenger Kids” app
Facebook has recently released the Messenger Kids app, but is it really a good thing or a bad thing for kids to have?
These days, with all the new apps and technology available to kids and parents, it can be confusing to know whether or not it will benefit you and your kids.
And with Facebook releasing a new Messenger Kids app that’s targeted towards kids, it begs the question of whether this new app will be helpful or harmful to kids.
What mums and dads need to know about the Messenger Kids app
According to Facebook, the Messenger Kids App was designed to “give kids and parents a fun, safer solution” to the standard Facebook that’s available to everyone else which would allow parents to control who their kids communicate with.
At first glance, it sounds like a good idea since while Facebook requires it’s users to be aged 13 and above, a lot of younger kids try to change their age so that they can use the site as well as the various Facebook apps.
This means that if your 10-year-old child has a Facebook account, they’re exposed to everyone else on Facebook, including predators who prey on little kids.
The Messenger Kids app aims to solve this problem by making an app that’s exclusively designed for kids with extra parental controls so that mums and dads can filter out potentially harmful people on Facebook.
But is this really the solution to protecting your kids online?
Should your child even be on Facebook at all?
If you think about it, should a young child even be on Facebook in the first place?
Facebook placed a restriction that only people who are 13 years old and above should sign up for the website, and that means anyone younger than 13 might find posts, comments, videos, etc. that’s potentially age-inappropriate.
And according to Australian parenting expert Sharon Witt, it’s not a good idea to even let kids younger than 13 use the internet unsupervised.
“We’re creating more of an issue by allowing children to be online at an earlier age. Once they can chat online, it’s fraught with danger. Complications and misunderstandings arise which kids need to learn to deal with face-to-face.
“It’s putting children at further risk of developing anxiety by encouraging them to be online more than in real life.”
If you think about it, she really does have a point. Young kids, especially those under 13 shouldn’t really be using Facebook. And if kids want to use the internet, then it’s important for parents to let their kids do so, but with their guidance and supervision.
What should parents do instead?
It can be hard for parents to completely prevent their kids from having access to the internet since even little children can use the internet to their advantage in order to learn new things and to explore the world around them.
However, this also means that they can sometimes visit sites with age-inappropriate content or with content that might be confusing to them.
This is why it’s important is for parents to control their kids’ screen time as well that the sites that their kids have access to.
Here are some useful tips to remember:
- Whenever your child wants to use the internet, make sure to supervise them and guide them as best as you can.
- Screen time should be limited to at most 2 hours a day, and even less for younger kids.
- If you have a computer, make sure it’s placed in your living room, so that you can easily see what sites your children are visiting.
- Make it a point to let your kids know that if they find something that might be age-inappropriate, they need to tell you as soon as possible.
- Use parental controls on apps and browsers to help limit the access to different sites that your child has.
- Encourage kids to play outside or read a book instead of using the internet to pass the time.
Photos from: Facebook.com