Facebook unveiled a ‘child-friendly’ Messenger Kids app this week aimed at kids as young as six years.
The app allows children between six and 12 to message and video call contacts online with their parents’ permission.
Speaking to FEMAIL on Wednesday, parenting expert, Sharon Witt hit out at the app – which is being trialled in the United States – saying kids under the age of 13 shouldn’t be encouraged to be online.
‘We’re creating more of an issue by allowing children to be online at an earlier age,’ Ms Witt said.
‘Once they can chat online, it’s fraught with danger. Complications and misunderstandings arise which kids need to learn to deal with face-to-face.
‘It’s putting children at further risk of developing anxiety by encouraging them to be online more than in real life.’
Ms Witt labelled the app a ‘ridiculous concept’, highlighting the importance of children to disconnect from social media, which can provide constant exposure to online bullying.
‘We didn’t have this 10 years ago and now kids are more anxious and more stressed because they’re connected and more available.’
Messenger Kids allows children to use the popular instant messaging app without forcing them to create a Facebook profile.
Instead, the app is controlled from the account of a parent, who has to approve all of their child’s contacts by becoming Facebook ‘friends’ with them.
Ms Witt said the only positive that could come from the app is contacting relatives overseas, although she suggested e-mail and Skype are better alternatives.
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