New Messenger Kids Internet Safety Games Mainly Teach Kids How to Use Messenger
Facebook parent company Meta has launched new activities on its Messenger Kids platform aimed at teaching children Internet etiquette. According to a blog post by Erik Michael Weitzman, director of product management at Messenger Kids, the new play activities “will help kids learn to use the internet safely and practice making healthy decisions online.” .
Pledge Planets is based on what Weitzman says are the principles of the Messenger Kids Pledge: be kind, be respectful, be safe and have fun. The first episode titled “Be Kind” includes two games that will help children “learn and practice how to act kindly,” the company says:
Approximate opinions: Players must help the owner read the reviews and match the correct online answer to each. This game teaches kids to recognize nice and mean behavior and learn about tools like blocking and reporting.
Order: Players build a sandwich order by selecting the emojis that best suit the customer’s mood. This game teaches kids how to read people’s emotions online.
Weitzman writes that the company developed the engagement and activities of Pledge Planets with guidance from experts in online safety and child development. Meta/Facebook first introduced Messenger Kids in 2017, a scaled-down version of its Messenger app that links to a parent’s Facebook account. But last year, Facebook shelved plans for a children’s version of its Instagram photo-sharing platform after widespread criticism.
Leaving aside the question of whether Facebook/Meta/Messenger is qualified to offer advice on sound decisions and Internet safety, what are these two games? really do is teach children how to use Messenger. Bear with me for a sec, but the first thing I thought of was (most well-meaning and genuine) Sesame Street, arguably the first TV show designed to help teach preschoolers.
While Sesame Street is rightly praised for having a positive impact on children’s learning abilities and for its diverse, multicultural cast of characters, many have also noted that the show has done a great job teaching children how to watching TV, keeping them engaged and entertained through play learning.
Meta’s platforms, however, have a troubled history when it comes to child safety online; internal documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen suggested that Facebook/Meta was aware that Instagram could be “toxic” to teenage users and that its algorithms could direct children to content that could encourage self-harm. And a study last May by online child safety advocacy organization Thorn found that children are being abused and harassed on social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, at significantly higher rates. higher than previously thought.
And, recently leaked internal documents show that Meta is hemorrhaging among younger users, with a projection showing that Meta will lose 45% of its teenage users over the next two years. Most kids don’t see Facebook as a platform for them, and while Instagram has remained popular with teenage users, it’s also lost ground in recent years to both bullies on its app and to competitors like TikTok. So, Meta teaching a whole new generation how to use one of its products would seem to fit its need to attract young users and get them playing.