Just recently, Facebook put out a new app designed for kids between the ages of 6 to 12. Facebook Messenger For Kids is supposed to make it easier for families to communicate, stay in touch, and perform a cell phone lookup on people they don’t know. But does it? Should you really be letting your 7-year-old use Facebook Messenger? Parents are divided.

Support For Messenger For Kids

The biggest argument in favor of the app is that kids should learn how to use social media responsibly. In theory, giving them access to social media accounts early on will teach them to be responsible with them. This includes running a cell phone lookup on anyone whose name they don’t recognize. But that’s just in theory. In practice, will that actually happen? I’m not sure if I’d want my 7-year-old reaching for a smartphone instead of Stuart Little at night. I’d rather they learn to read actual books, not emoji-filled messages from their friends.

Another reason why some parents think Messenger For Kids is great is because the video chat feature in the regular app also works in Messenger For Kids. That means grandparents and other relatives can video chat with their younger relatives. While this is probably a good thing, a lot of kids already use FaceTime to chat with their relatives and far away friends. They don’t need to use Messenger for that. All they need to do is tell Siri to FaceTime their grandparent, cousin, or other relative.

Arguments Against Messenger For Kids

Young kids shouldn't be on the Internet.

It’s not always a good idea for young kids to be on social media.

Critics of the app raise concerns, not just about kids that may be too young to use social media, but also about the potential for bullying and other problems. Even though the app has some safety features set up and requires parents to create their child’s account, I still think it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. Children might not realize that they should be using a cell phone lookup to learn more about online strangers. I don’t see any really compelling reasons why younger kids should be on social media. There’s plenty of time for them to start using it when they’re teenagers.

Recent studies have found that using social media is causing epidemic levels of depression and low self-esteem among teens. I don’t want children to increase their risk of developing these problems by exposing them to social media when they aren’t even in third grade yet. They should be focusing on developing their imaginations, not their friends list.

So while some parents may find it useful, I recommend that most younger children shouldn’t be allowed to use Messenger For Kids. In my opinion, the benefits of the app aren’t worth it. There are plenty of other ways for kids to stay in touch with family and friends without using Facebook Messenger. They can enjoy social media, selfies, and likes on their posts when they get older.