I’m not a parent, nor will I be playing one as your new Social Media Insider.
But that doesn’t make the news that Facebook is -- for the first time ever -- opening its doors to pre-teen kids any less terrifying.
No, the fact that Facebook consulted with some parents and experts before launching “Messenger Kids” doesn’t help.
Nor does the blog post by Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of “Safety,” in which she acknowledges that, yes, “raising a child in today’s digital world can be overwhelming.”
And, no, Facebook's promise not to run ads in its new service -- or use it to target ads in any way -- doesn’t make the dramatic shift any more palatable.
That’s like the company that makes candy cigarettes promising not to put tobacco in their products.
The fact is that Facebook -- for all its benefits -- is a public company with a fiduciary responsibility to keep increasing profits for investors.
With Messenger Kids, Facebook can now begin conditioning children from a young age to rely on its platform for social engagement and entertainment. Once they reach a respectable ad-receiving age, they’ll already be primed and programmed.
How many kids are even in a position to use such a messaging service? Under the age of eight, about 42% already have their own tablets, according to one rec ent U.S. study.
And, of course, the goal will be to get them all hooked on Facebook. Hooking users is in the company’s DNA.
As Sean Parker recently admitted : “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”
Now, Facebook can begin working on kids well before they have developed other means of interacting and engaging with the world. Before they find fulfillment in activities that don’t involve digital gadgets or virtual social networks.
As Parker recently explained, Facebook has very successfully engineered “a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."
“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”