Facebook doesn't appear to care about the pushback its Messenger Kids app has received and is now even making it easier for children to add their friends on the platform.
The social media company is now rolling out a new feature that will make it easier for parents to approve new friends. Parents have to turn on a setting that generates a random phrase that can then be given to their child's potential Messenger Kids friend.
Facebook Introduces An Easier Way To Add Friends On Messenger Kids
The feature is opt-in only, it's worth noting, meaning it's turned off by default. Once enabled, parents will be able to let Facebook generate the said phrase uniquely assigned to each child. When the child wants to add a friend, they need to show this phrase to their would-be friend, who then inputs it into their own app, As TechCrunch explains.
Parents of both parties will receive a notification informing them of the friend request, and both have to approve it before the kids can start their conversation on Messenger Kids. The new feature doesn't loosen the rules on adding friends but simply makes them easier and more straightforward. All friend requests will still require parents' explicit attention and approval, just as before.
Messenger Kids Controversy
The addition of the new feature suggests that while Facebook isn't ready to succumb to the various child advocates who want Messenger Kids shut down, it's trying to walk a fine line between expanding the platform but also making sure it's still a safe space for children to communicate with one another.
It will likely not please all, however. Opponents such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have directed Facebook to research, cautioning children against excessive use of digital devices, as they may be harmful. What's more, younger kids simply aren't equipped to handle the travesties of online harassment, let alone properly navigate the nuance of online personas and relationships. Social media can be toxic even for an adult — imagine what it can do to a child who's still trying to get a sense of who they are. These critics see Messenger Kids as a problem, and their tune likely won't change no matter how many updates Facebook introduces to the platform.
So it's up to parents, ultimately, if they want their children to participate in a platform that while useful and painfully necessary in this day and age, puts them at risk of cyberbullying and other potentially dangerous interactions.