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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

More on Young People in the Digital Age

a child wearing earphones holds a tablet
Image from Pixabay
There's been a lot of press recently about the new Facebook Messenger Kids app that Facebook rolled out in early December of last year.  Messenger Kids is designed for kids as young as six (or even younger) to use social media to connect with parent-approved family and friends--they can only sign up through a parent's Facebook account.  Facebook has stated that there will be no advertising on this app, and they will not be collecting/using the vast amount of data that would be available from Messenger Kids.  Still, many see the new app as being quite problematic.

Yesterday, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, along with more than 100 other organizations and individuals, wrote a letter to Facebook asking them to reconsider the app.  Wisconsin's own Dipesh Navsaria (pediatrician, educator, and librarian who many of you have seen present) is one of the signatories.  It is their contention that increasing evidence shows the harmful psychological effects of too much social media on teens, and encouraging younger children to develop the habit of using social media is potentially dangerous.  Additionally, young children do not have essential skills for navigating social media yet.  They are not developmentally ready to understand privacy or to decipher what is fantasy and what is reality.  This makes them less prepared to deal with the challenges social media presents.

What do you think? 

If you are interested in learning more about helping young people learn to enjoy digital media in healthy and productive ways, I highly recommend checking out the recording of the webinar by Erin Walsh, who spoke last week at the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference.  One of the ideas she talked about was HOMAGO--providing space for teens and tweens to learn in new and social media environments in a variety of ways:  Hanging Out, Messing Around & Geeking Out.  Check out the resource, created by the Digital Media Learning and Research Hub.