Facebook app.
With already Facebook known for its toxic impact on adult users, parents have raised concerns over the development of a similar app for impressionable minors. (Photo by Brett Jordan from Unsplash)

Is a Facebook for Kids Really What Society Needs?

In the hopes of recovering some of its teenage users after a recent drop in numbers, the platform is developing a new app geared toward a younger audience.

Screens x
Facebook app.

In the hopes of recovering some of its teenage users after a recent drop in numbers, the platform is developing a new app geared toward a younger audience.

You would think that in light of the multitude of scandals and drama that Facebook seems to be drowning in as of late, they’d pump the brakes on any added controversy. They didn’t, and instead, they took it to a mind-blowing level of scumbaggery. It’s upsetting that teens are subconsciously influenced by their Facebook feed, regardless of whether its impact is positive or negative. That much engineered, algorithmic sway over anyone’s life is terrifying. However, there seemed to be a light at the end of this bleak teenage tunnel, as the amount of juvenile Facebook users has been on a steady decline.

So, what’s a reasonably proactive, yet adequate response to counteract the dwindling adolescent presence? Did you guess putting stricter policies in place to help protect kids from being vulnerable against volatile teasing while perusing their friends’ pages? If you did, well then, I wish you were Mark Zuckerberg because his actual actions were disappointing and disgusting to say the least.

I know what you’re thinking. The offensive play made solely based on Zuckerberg’s logic can’t really be that bad, can it? If you consider equipping children aged seven to 12 with their own kid-themed Facebook as an acceptable remedy to this decline, then sure, get on that fast track to childhood ruin. But if you’re more inclined to believe that Facebook is nothing more than a toxic bully breeding ground, then you better hang on to that “oh s—” handle because it’s about to get rough.

It’s unfathomable that parents not only have to worry about the day-to-day dangers their children face, but now they’re up against an intangible enemy — one that’s so accessible it’s literally in the palm of their hands. Social media has become an uncharted badland for the youth.

So, what makes this digital plain so treacherous? It has the capacity to disperse an unchecked onslaught of vile feedback, and it wages psychological warfare on minors by carving its way into their young minds’ psyche. Granted, these adolescents are far from being toddlers, but I’d argue that their mind is almost just as impressionable.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 17-34. While it’s difficult to attribute social media influences to the soaring number of young adult tragedies, there have been multiple studies conducted — one led internally by Facebook itself — that confirm the heavy hand social media plays in this demographic’s demise.

Leaked documents and images of presentation slides depicting the results of Facebook’s three-year-long, in-depth study revealed pretty much what we all already assumed. The primary perpetrator of pummeling adolescents’ self-esteem is Instagram, an app that caters to glamorous imagery and digitally altered falsehoods.

The users most susceptible to these deceitful self-image standards and mutated ideals are young girls. However, while young women are more likely to experience body dysmorphia, a mental health concern that social media drastically exacerbates, young men are not safe from its electronically noxious clutches either.

So why is no one banning this insidious means of communication? This is where it gets tricky. Social media and its effect on its youngest users, or lack thereof,  is a topic so relatively new that it lacks sufficient evidence supported by concrete data. This gaping hole of knowledge makes it difficult to make an argument either for or against anything concerning its use. As a result, studies proclaiming everything from extreme opposites to complete neutrality are abundant. Yet, instead of playing it safe by encouraging kids to cut back their use of these outlets, Facebook went ahead and widened the gate to lure even younger users in.

Just the idea of a child-themed social media app radiates desolation. I in no way can speak for anyone else, especially seeing as my parents were hippies, but a lack of social media presence screams optimal outcome. I’d like to think that being a free love progeny who was encouraged to play outdoors and get immersed in something other than a television screen, or any electronic device for that matter, did me a solid. My childhood was so fruitfully constructive, in fact, that it’s now translated into an adulthood resistance against developing a dependency on social media.

Aside from work, school and family obligations, no one, of any age, should immediately enter panic mode if they lose access to their phone. So, what if we were to project everything that was just discussed onto an even younger, more impressionable age group? What are some of the repercussions that could possibly be contrived from this? It’s sickening.

Zuckerberg outlandishly claimed, “research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” which is just a testament to the kind of man he isn’t.

Just to be clear, Zuck, you think that cyberbullying, something that’s proven to be linked to the rate of adolescent suicide, holds no bearing on whether your website acts as a major contributor? Guess you’re going hard on that delusive counter strike.

But maybe not all is lost: the project’s been put on pause. That must be a good sign that it’s likely to get pigeonholed, right? Not so much. As the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated, this is merely a pause for recalibration — one aimed at making the project “more acceptable.” Anything that expresses the necessity of becoming “more acceptable” in order for it to be released is hands down something no one should let near their kids.

Does anyone really think that the guy who turned a blind eye to human sex trafficking and the Capitol riot, horrific events that were irrefutably known to have utilized Facebook and Instagram as tools, is trustworthy?  This is the same man that holds gross earnings to the highest degree yet knowingly amplifies extremism and misinformation.

On top of all this, it seems grossly ironic that the medium made with the intention of “bettering” social interactions will ultimately be its downfall. I think it’s time Zuckerberg hops on the next Bezos spaceship so he can make his, fingers crossed, early retirement interplanetary. You’re a plague to this planet, Zuck — try Mars next.

Writer Profile

Megan Heenan

Nevada State College
B.S. in Environmental & Resource Science, Minor in Professional Writing

Hello! My name is Megan. I’m originally from San Francisco, California, but now live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m currently completing my last semester at Nevada State College. I love animals, photography, reading and gardening.

Leave a Reply