Mark Zuckerberg has set up a Facebook Messenger app for the under-13 crowd, and it’s really time to think about what we want to teach kids about reality.
Today, a group of 100 child-development experts called for Zuckerberg to terminate the tween product in a letter that states, “Messenger Kids is not responding to a need — it is creating one.”
However, he has also said in the past that he wants to open up Facebook to the kiddies, too. Is that where we are headed? Full Facebook for everyone?
I think I can safely say for myself that I am certainly glad that no remnant of my year being 12 exists, and never, ever, existed, on a digital bulletin board that any acquaintance could go back to and draw up at any time.
As we all know, kids can be mean, and that’s in part because growing up teaches them that, yeah, they can choose to be mean, but it’s not to their benefit and it’s going to make them feel like crap, too.
But they learn that rather slowly.
When that meanness is broadcast on a screen, it has the horrifying, chilling potential of seeming life-ruining to a victim. A verbal attack also can be a rush, setting in place an addiction for the perpetrator, who also has a right to grow up without the adolescent temptation to, say, publicly rip someone to shreds verbally before he or she fully processes what that means.
So, we are lucky that the kids these days think that Facebook is extremely uninteresting and intended for the old folks. That’s a strong, valid point, and it could protect younger juveniles from some of the social media chaos.
But with a little Facebook marketing and more availability, we could be looking at something that’s cool again. Much the same way as we don’t want cigarettes, legalized pot and alcohol marketed to kids, we don’t want this addictive, narcissism-enhancing tool on the shelf for kids who haven’t even dealt with a pimple yet.
Legally, children don’t have options for social media when they’re under 13.
This would open the floodgates.
We’ve probably all seen adults pile on to other adults on Facebook at least once, especially since the current president took office. It can get nasty, just with words, and that’s with people who are — allegedly — mature.
Whether Facebook is cool or not now, making it more easily available to all tweens will change its image.
Since it’s not a tool that’s making people happy, according to a few studies (including this one), it would be like handing tweens a slam book and instant popularity meter in one — right when they have very few psychological tools and almost no life experience.
ICYMI, no thanks.
Am I crazy and just on a tirade? Is there no risk that kids will ever want to be on Facebook, anyway?
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