How Facebook is Promoting Social Media Addiction in Young Children

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How Facebook is Promoting Social Media Addiction in Young Children

Kendal Shride, Editor

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Last month, Facebook launched a new app called Messenger Kids, allowing children six through 13 years old to text and video chat with others. This app is completely separate from Facebook and does not allow kids to even make a Facebook account, as it markets itself as being kid-friendly, with parents having access to monitor who their children are talking to as well as the messages they send.

“Messenger Kids is a messaging app that helps parents and children to chat in a safer way, with parents always in control of their child’s contacts and interactions,” Facebook says. A safer way? Children as young as six years old should not be interacting online in the first place, or even have a capable device for that matter. Facebook is making it seem like they are fixing a problem when really they are just creating one, exposing young kids to the world of social media. 

Facebook is encouraging children to start using social media at an early age, in some cases even six years old, which is just sparking their addiction early in life. The worst part about it is that children that young are in a vulnerable stage of their life, with their brains at a critical stage of development. “A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens”, experts from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said, “making it very likely this new app will undermine children’s healthy development.” Many pediatric and mental health experts are becoming upset and concerned about Facebook’s new app and the affect it will have on children.

Instead of reminiscing about memories of playing outside with their friends, young children of this generation will remember their childhood being glued to a device. Many teens like me are already very addicted to social media as it is, but apps like Instagram weren’t even launched until 2010, and Facebook requires you to be at least 13 years old before making an account. Seeing how addicted my generation is to social media already, despite the fact that we weren’t exposed to these apps our whole childhood, provides great concern for these children who are becoming exposed as early as six years old.

Despite this huge problem, there are few obvious solutions. Even if parents do not allow their children to have social media accounts, or even if adults choose to not have any form of social media, they will still face consequences. You can choose not to have any social media accounts, but today you almost have to. In the world we live in , if you aren’t on social media you will likely feel out of the loop and disconnected from friends and family. It is very hard to stay headstrong and not be glued to a cellular device, thanks to the fear that you will be missing out.

Although the topic of social media addiction is a tricky and almost impossible issue to combat, restraints are possible to keep young children from starting this addiction prematurely. This starts with Facebook removing Messenger Kids, and all other social media apps having an age minimum requirement before signing up.

Despite its statement to the contrary, Facebook is not doing children and parents a favor by having a “kid-friendly” social media app. They are doing more harm than good, and damaging the future of our world.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash. Used with permission.