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Messenger Kids
Grandma and Grandpa never come to visit anymore because technology has reduced their grandkids to sticker-faced chat drones. (Facebook Image)

Facebook announced Monday that it is rolling out a new app in the U.S. called Messenger Kids, targeting young people — and the parents who hopefully control their devices and screen time — with what the social media giant considers to be a safe chat option.

Messenger Kids is a standalone app for a tablet or smartphone that kids might own or have access to, but it’s controlled through a parent’s Facebook account. Right now the preview is available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone.

According to Facebook, parents fully control the contact list, which makes it “a safer, more controlled environment of just close friends and family.” The company also says that messages don’t disappear and can’t be hidden from parents and that there are no ads or in-app purchases.

That all sounds fine and good, and Facebook further contends that the app has been designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) dealing with what information websites can collect from children under 13.

For a generation already being raised with devices stuck in their faces, it seems like a scary idea to me, as a parent, to let Facebook get its hooks into my kids at such a young age.

Who in their right mind even trusts Facebook with the information it already collects from adults? A company that couldn’t keep Russian accounts from spreading misinformation across its platform during the run-up to the 2016 election is now supposed to be given the social media keys to kids as young as 6?

I don’t trust that Messenger Kids is nothing more than a device to hook my kids on Facebook as early as possible. They hooked me when I was over 40!

Obviously I know it’s too late and kids today are addicted to more and more social media channels (just like their parents) and credible solutions are needed going forward to protect young people from the creeps (and advertisers) online.

But this whole idea that picking up an iPhone and putting goofy stickers on your face in a video chat is the only way to communicate with your friends is ridiculous. If kids relied less on chat apps in 2017 maybe they would be able to carry on an actual conversation in the hallway at school. Or they wouldn’t whine in a restaurant about needing the iPad while the rest of us are trying to talk.

But kids like technologyyyyy.

Great, go out in the woods and build a rocket with some firecrackers and a toilet paper tube like we did.

And give me back my phone.

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