New Facebook app for kids at center of controversy

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jan 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-30 18:15:21-05

'Messenger Kids' is a free video and messaging app designed specifically for kids.

Facebook says the app offers parents more control over who their children are talking to.

In an open letter to Facebook's co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, or CCFC, it calls Messenger Kids an "irresponsible" attempt to encourage young children to use Facebook.

Saying "Messenger Kids is not responding to a need – it is creating one."

Over 100 people and organizations signed this letter in an attempt to urge Zuckerberg to discontinue the app.

And some parents are weary as well.

"I've always been strict with my boys," Christina Sperandeo, mother of three boys, said. "I just feel like as a mother our job is to protect our children and keep them safe."

The Kenmore mom says she's strict especially when it comes to social media. 

"We need to be one step ahead of our children -- things have changed from when we were growing up and we have to be more involved," Sperandeo said.

Messages don't disappear from the app just in case parents want to check-in. 

"Parents sometimes believe that if they allow their child to have a cell phone then they can just take a look what the kid is doing on the cell phone," Sephra Rahabi-Vigna, psychologist, said.

She says parents are finding they can't monitor their kids usage as much as they would like because it takes too much time... time parents don't have.

"We're seeing kids becoming very irritable because they are not getting the response that they like or that they would want to get on social media," Dr. Vigna, said.

Dr. Vigna recommends parents limit phone usage by taking the phone away at night.