Joining the chorus against a messaging app exclusively for kids from Facebook, British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned the social media giant to stay away from his children. “Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children.”
“Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” Hunt posted on Twitter on Wednesday. Facebook on Monday introduced Messenger Kids for under-13 children to video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person. Rolled out in the US for the moment, Messenger Kids is a stand-alone app that will be available on kids’ tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook account.
“Not sure this is the right direction at all,” Hunt tweeted. Facebook was yet to comment. Facebook’s move has already been criticized in some countries. Facebook, however, said it launched Messenger Kids after talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA and parenting experts.
Facebook found that there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want. “In addition to our research with thousands of parents, we’ve engaged with over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety, and children’s media and technology who’ve helped inform our approach to building our first app for kids,” Loren Cheng, Product Management Director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.
Once the account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app.