Facebook’s Messenger Kids, the social network’s new chat app for the under-13 crowd, has been designed to give parents more control over their kids’ contact list. Today, the app is gaining a new feature, “sleep mode,” aimed at giving parents the ability to turn the app off at designated times. The idea is that parents and children will talk about when it’s appropriate to send messages to friends and family, and when it’s time for other activities – like homework or bedtime, for example.
The app, which launched last December, has not been without controversy.
Some see it as a gateway drug for Facebook proper. Others whine that “kids should be playing outside!” – as if kids don’t engage in all sorts of activities, including device usage, at times. And of course, amid Facebook’s numerous scandals around data privacy, it’s hard for some parents to fathom installing a Facebook-operated anything on their child’s phone or tablet.
But the reality, from down here in the parenting trenches, is that kids are messaging anyway and we’re desperately short on tools.
Instead of apps built with children’s and parents’ needs in mind, our kids are fumbling around on their own, making mistakes, then having their devices taken away in punishment.