Messenger Kids Facebook App Creeps Technology Into Family Life

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On December 4, the New York Times ran an article about how Facebook just introduced a new app called Messenger Kids. According to Facebook, this app makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message family and friends. Per their privacy policy, the app collects registration details from parents such as a child’s full name. It also collects the texts, audio and videos children send, as well as information about whom the child interacts with on the service, what features they use and how long the children use them. In launching this new app, Facebook has ignited a fierce debate about how young is too young for children to use mobile apps and how do parents deal with the creep of technology into family life.

One mother has stepped into the debate with an alternative. Janice Taylor created a website and application called Mazu, which teaches children and families how to use digital media responsibly and become positive digital citizens. She cautions parents and says they need to ask themselves, “do you trust Facebook as a medium to protect your children?”

Bing search engine results for “Facebook messenger kids”

“Facebook’s only goal is to monetize a new user base and beat SnapChat at it. Children should never be used as ammunition in the Social Media war for dominance.” Taylor explains.

Based on the concept that “It takes a village to raise a child,” Taylor takes the position that every adult has a role to play in the well-being of the child and society. Taylor created Mazu to build a healthy digital village for families that is founded in love and core values. “Traditional social media preys on our desires to be liked, to be validated, and to be rewarded. That’s why the ‘Like’ button is so addicting and why we at Mazu don’t have one.”

Since its inception in 2010, Mazu, with over 250,000 users and growing, has evolved and now, through partnerships with professional sports teams, has brought the ‘it takes a village’ mentality online. With a suite of family friendly apps, Mazu connects kids to their family, friends, and teams/ brands they love in a way that is safe, healthy and fun. To date they have raised more than $6 million from non-Silicon Valley companies.

A recent Reuters Facebook post about Facebook Messenger Kids

“We believe that parents matter in the digital lives of their children, that’s why our COPPA-certified apps are created with parents in mind. We believe in the power of family and staying connected,” says Taylor. “By building our products around a set of values and using the community to build each other up, we believe we can create better digital citizens.”

Janice Taylor is a social entrepreneur, mother, inspirational speaker, author, and online safety advocate. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an Honors thesis that focused on self-esteem and self-efficacy among women. It was from this research that she sought to create a solution to the issue of social media addiction and how it was affecting women, children, and families. For the Silo, Trina Kaye.  Have something to say about this article? Leave us a video comment by clicking record below or use the comment section at the bottom of this page to type us a response. 

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