To appease parents concerned about kids using social media at all hours of the night, Facebook has rolled out a new sleep mode for its Messenger Kids app.
The new feature lets parents set predetermined off times for the app that will prohibit a child from sending or receiving messages. Settings can be changed via an adult’s regular Facebook account at any point, and customized for different times on weekdays versus weekends.
Messenger Kids was introduced in December as a way for under-13s to use social media. It is currently available for free in the US for Apple, Amazon, Google and Kindle devices, and includes video, pictures and messaging capabilities. Shortly after its release, a coalition of experts, including Common Sense Media, came out against the app saying that it will undermine healthy childhood development by increasing the amount of time spent on digital devices. Common Sense then joined forces with the Center for Humane Technology to launch a Truth About Tech campaign designed to combat digital and social media addictions among kids.
Despite ongoing adult concerns, kids’ interests in accessing social networking sites via their mobile devices is skyrocketing. According to Common Sense Media, US children spend nearly 50 minutes per day on a mobile device, up from a mere 15 minutes in 2013. In addition, a 2017 study from the US National Retail Foundation and IBM found that children spend 73% of their time on mobile phones texting and chatting.
Facebook isn’t the only tech company trying to keep their kidtech alive by appeasing parents with more control. Just last week, YouTube Kids unveiled improved parental controls for its app with three new customization features that give parents more power over the videos and channels accessed by children.