Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children

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Dr. Jenny Radesky, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of MI, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said that children younger than 12 years old are not ready to use social media without parental supervision. "We want to create technologies that benefit, rather than harm or are merely neutral on the lives of children".

"The question needs to be asked whether children as young as six need this".

Loren Cheng, product manager for Messenger Kids said before children can make new connections on the app, it must be approved by parents on both sides.

Hundreds of users were left clueless when they found their favourite social network messenger/chatting service, Facebook messenger down due to a worldwide outage.

"Regular" Facebook still has an official use restriction for kids under the age of 13. Preteens are also avid senders of text messages.

"It's hard for them to grasp concepts like privacy, who is using their data, or insight into how they might be manipulated through persuasive design - and they are really just starting to build awareness about their identity, role in relationships, and morality", she said in an e-mail.

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Even so, child heath experts like Dunaway remain skeptical.

He said the company was failing to act responsibly despite having assured the government that it would not target its service at children, who can only use the main social media website if they are over 13. The app is compliant with COPPA, it added. The narrowed app was designed after consultation with hundreds of parents and several children's advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Facebook said. Every additional friend request requires approval by the parent. As with Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, children can add filters or playful drawings to the photos they send.

The firm said it offered a more appropriate app, which parents could allow their children to use on tablets and smartphones. "Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)".

There are concerns the app could lead to more online bullying. Facebook's live video streaming feature, for example, has been used for lots of the useful things and innocuous stuff, but also to stream suicides and crimes.

Joining the chorus against a messaging app exclusively for kids from Facebook, British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.