Recently, Facebook pushed out a new app that targets young children: Messenger For Kids. It’s designed to be used by kids between the ages of 6-12, who are too young to have a regular Facebook account. That’s because kids need to be at least 13 to have a regular one. This important restriction helps reduce cyberbullying, harassment, and cyber stalking on social media.
But do kids need to start using social media at 6 years old? Most 6-year-olds can barely read. They don’t need to learn text speak or how to use emojis instead of words. Instead, they should be practicing reading and spelling by studying books, not sending messages on Facebook.
Now, I know some people say that it’s a good thing to start teaching your kids to use social media early. This way, they can learn how to use it responsibly and manage their time so they aren’t always on it. In theory, I agree with that. Social media is a big part of our lives and children do need to learn how to use it. New technology is a good thing and the next generation has to know how to integrate it into their lives.
But with all the bullying and cyber stalking that goes on these days, I just don’t think it’s necessary to expose kids to that so early. I’d want my 6-year-old to be reading books, playing outside, and having fun. Not holed up in his room with his smartphone and chatting with friends on Messenger, instead of going down the street to his friend’s house to see if he wants to play ball, go bike riding, or visit the park.
There’s plenty of time for kids to start learning how to use social media responsibly when they’re teenagers. Let’s teach them how to read, use their imaginations, and make friends with actual people in person before we try to worry about their online presence.
But What About Family Connection?
Yes, this is Messenger For Kids‘ biggest selling point. It keeps families connected with group and family chats, letting them stay in touch with each other throughout the day. Plus, there is some merit to the idea that family chats are a group thing. But again, does a 6-year-old need to participate in a family group chat? Would they even understand most of it? And you don’t need your child to check in on Facebook; instead, make sure you always know where they are so you can prevent cyber stalking, too.
For me, I don’t think that family group chats are a good enough reason for children to use social media. They should be playing outside and making new friends in real life instead of chatting on Facebook.