As Critics Decry Facebook Messenger Kids, What Responsibility Do Parents Bear?

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(CBS News) — More than 100 public health advocates are calling on Facebook to pull the plug on its new messenger app for kids. The group sent a letter Tuesday to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that says, “A growing body of research demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices and social media is harmful to children and teens.”

But Facebook says it created Messenger Kids to give children a safe way to video chat and send messages to their parent-approved friends and family, reports CBS News’ Jericka Duncan. It features stickers and face filters geared for kids under 13 years old, an age critics say is simply too young for social media.

Kindergartener Isla Thomason has been using Facebook’s Messenger Kids app since it was released in December. The 6-year-old’s father, Brett Thomason, signed her up.

“This is the world that they live in. She’s coming into this world, she needs to be prepared for how to communicate,” he said.

Thomason, a technical coordinator at a charter school in Sarasota, Florida, likes the fact that parents control who their children can message with.

“That even creates a safer environment than traditional text messaging — that all you need is a phone number and you can send a message to anybody. There’s no blocks or anything with that,” Thomason said.

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