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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.

Will you be allowing your kids to use this app?

Share your comments below.

  • There’s no way my kids are getting near this.

    Reply

  • At 6 years old, why would you introduce a child to the internet, apps or any social media? It is very irresponsible in my personal opinion. Why do they need a phone at that age? If it is for emergencies only, there is a way of locking certain numbers into it and they are the only ones that can be called. Not sure about the receiving of calls or texts.

    Reply

  • A facebook app for a 6 year old ? No way !

    Reply

  • So it still comes down to the parents making the decision to let kids on the internet that young. Not a good idea as far as I’m concerned

    Reply

  • Nope. Kids don’t need to be online at all.

    Reply

  • No – not an app we will be using – there are so many other ways to connect with people. Children and adults all need time to disconnect from social media and technology.

    Reply

  • I’m probably a little old-fashioned, but since when does a 6-years old child have his own phone and uses apps? :-)

    Reply

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