Parents, if you are not yet informed about all the damage social media causes already to grown adults and teenagers, be sure to check out the dozens of articles I have already written on the subject. The plethora of evidence from psychological studies and the admissions of guilt from the tech founders themselves, all indicate social media being a leading cause of recent societal decay.
If you don’t have time to read through the past articles, at least take a look at this short clip of Jonathan Haidt’s findings that will describe how Facebook will stunt the development of your child.
Similar to the psychological manipulation employed to get its users dependent on the platform, Facebook wants to give kids the gateway drug — Facebook messenger for kids — and they are enlisting the help of bad parents to administer the drug for them.
A responsible parent won’t let a child into a casino to start playing the slots at an early age. A responsible parent shouldn’t let their kids near social media as well until they fully understand the consequences of its habitual use.
Aside from preying on bad parents to help them with their misdeeds, Facebook is aiming for the app to accomplish more than what it reveals on the surface.
First, the app fools helicopter parents into thinking they will effectively be able to monitor their children’s usage, making sure their children associate with the right friends and manage the time spent on the app. It makes the app seem harmless and innocent. This not only gives the illusion that Facebook cares about kids, it also cares about the parents by satisfying their needs. The users are given the illusion of control, but in reality, Facebook is pulling the strings here by getting the parents to willingly promote the platform to kids on Facebook’s behalf, and to cultivate children’s dependence on social media for day-to-day communication.
Second, children on the kids’ platform know that it isn’t “cool” to not use the “real thing”. In that sense, having the kids’ app exist despite being ad-free provides indirect profit. It psychologically primes children to desire using the actual Facebook platform. It provides “forbidden fruit” to chase. Kids are more than capable of mocking and pressuring other kids using the censored and highly restrictive kids’ version of the app. Facebook is purposely making the kid’s app “lame” in order to get teenage social circles to do the upselling on Facebook’s behalf.
And of course once they’re on the real Facebook platform, they get to experience the peer pressure that keeps them refreshing their timeline and messages every minute of the day.
Third, introducing communication through the medium of smartphones weakens familial and personal bonds. The earlier you introduce the middleman of the screen between two communicating parties, the higher the dependence on the middleman. Instilling this in children will be far more destructive than what we already see today. At the dinner table with grown adults, people already have a difficult time not relying on their smartphone as a crutch for their increasing inability to interact by dialogue. The Facebook app for kids is going to stunt development of interpersonal skills by introducing that crutch at a much earlier time, thus removing the joy of natural socialization among family and friends and replacing it with superficial joy associated with emojis and “likes”.
You can read further on the subject of Facebook’s new app in this Associated Press article released yesterday.
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