It seems Facebook’s interest in getting more young users into its platforms is well beyond Messenger Kids or the currently paused plans for a child friendly Instagram. According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal’s series, Facebook’s internal research is focusing on kids and studying their behavior to better design designing future products.
Facebook’s child research is motivated by the success of apps like TikTok and Snapchat in attracting younger users. A confidential Facebook document viewed by The Wall Street Journal reads “With the ubiquity of tablets and phones, kids are getting on the internet as young as six years old. We can’t ignore this and we have a responsibility to figure it out.”
WSJ pointed that another possible cause for concern is that statistically, the number of teenagers using Facebook daily has fallen 19 percent in the last two years and could drop even more up to 45 percent more by 2023.
Therefore, “imagine a Facebook experience designed for youth” makes more sense.
Facebook encouraged children to use Messenger Kids in person. Facebook researchers have also tried to introduce a more holistic understanding of childhood by grouping age brackets into 6 groups: adults, late teens ages 16 to maturity, teens ages 13 to 15, tweens ages 10 to 12, children ages 5 to 9, and young kids ages zero to four.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri said “It’s not new and it’s not a secret that social-media companies try to understand how teens and preteens use technology. Like all technology companies, of course, we want to appeal to the next generation, but that’s entirely different from the false assertion that we knowingly attempt to recruit people who aren’t old enough to use our apps.”
Interestingly, Facebook responded to The Wall Street Journal’s reports through a blog post published. Facebook said its age brackets are a taxonomy used by the “Age Appropriate Design Code and other policy experts” and that the “playdate” language it used was “an insensitive way to pose a serious question” and “doesn’t reflect its approach to building the app.”