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Withdraw Messenger Kids, experts urge Facebook CEO

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London, Jan 30 : Warning of the dangers of social media for kids, more than 100 child health experts have urged Facebook to halt Messenger Kids, a video calling and messaging app designed for the under 13s.

Zuckerberg

In an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the experts on Tuesday said that the “younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts”.

“We are writing to urge you to discontinue Messenger Kids, Facebook’s first social media app designed specifically for children under the age of 13,” said the letter signed by doctors, educators and child health experts and several organisations, chief among which is the US-based Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood.

“At a time when there is mounting concern about how social media use affects adolescents’ well being, it is particularly irresponsible to encourage children as young as pre-schoolers to start using a Facebook product,” the authors wrote.

The Messenger Kids app was launched in December, 2017, the Guardian reported.

According to Facebook, the app was designed to help kids connect with close friends and family from their tablet or smartphone.

With this app, kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts.

The app has no advertising and Facebook says that it will not use the wealth of data it collects from the new app for marketing purposes.

But the experts noted in the letter that the app’s overall impact on families and society is likely to be negative, normalising social media use among young children and creating peer pressure for kids to sign up for their first account.

They cited different research to drive home the point that social media use may adversely affect the well being of children.

The authors of the letter urged the Facebook CEO to leave the younger children alone so that they can develop without the pressures that come with social media use.

“We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids be the best experience it can be for families. We have been very clear that there is no advertising in Messenger Kids,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.

“Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!” Hunt had posted on Twitter.

IANS

Lifestyle

‘Higher marriage age provides women socio-economic benefits’

“As per our estimates, the percentage of females doing graduation will increase by at least 5-7 percentage points from the current level of 9.8 per cent.”

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Higher marriage age couple

New Delhi, Oct 22 : Higher marriage age is expected to provide enormous socio-economic benefits for women, SBI Ecowrap report said on Thursday.

The report comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government will soon take a decision on the minimum marriage age of women and it was recently reiterated signalling a possibility of the legal age of marriage for women to be raised from 18 years soon.

“We believe that increase in marriage age has enormous benefits on social and economic fronts for women,” the report said.

On social front, the report said that this will lead to social benefits like lowering Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) as well as improvement of nutrition levels while on financial front, opportunities will be opened up for women to pursue higher education and careers and become financially empowered, “thus resulting in a more egalitarian society in thinking”.

“We believe increasing the legal age has the potential to reduce India’s MMR significantly from 113 (2018). Further, increase in marriage age will push the mean marriage age higher and will lead to more females doing graduation and hence improving the abysmal female labour force participation ratio,” the report said.

“As per our estimates, the percentage of females doing graduation will increase by at least 5-7 percentage points from the current level of 9.8 per cent.”

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India

PM inaugurates Durga Puja festivities in Bengal, says committed to women empowerment

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Oct 22 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the Bharatiya Janata Party was committed to empowering women, and the government has taken steps to give benefits to all sections. He said this during his virtual address after inaugurating the Durga Puja festivities in West Bengal.

The Prime Minister during his virtual address said, “The government is working towards providing basic infrastructure to people in West Bengal, 30 lakh poor have been provided houses under the PMAY and in the Ujjwala scheme 90 lakh connections have been provided.”

Modi said that to empower the women, “The government has opened 22 crore Jan Dhan accounts, extended maternity leave and enforced more stringent laws to curb crime against women.”

He said Goddess Durga symbolises women power and the government is working towards it, while also mentioning laws made to scrap instant triple talaq, capital punishment to the rapists, permanent commission to women in the armed forces.

The Prime Minister said that the government is working towards the upliftment of eastern India. He recalled the great personalities from the state, from Guru Rabindranath Tagore to Qazi Nazrul Islam and mentioned about Bengal’s rich culture and history. “The people of Bengal have made the country proud and will do so in the future too,” he said.

On the occasion, Modi also cautioned people about Covid-19 and said, “We’re all celebrating Durga Puja this year amidst the Covid pandemic. Everyone has shown immense control and commitment to the entire arrangements while also ensuring that the flavour remains the same.”

He said the number of people might be less due to the pandemic but the grandeur and devotion are the same. Happiness and joy are still boundless in the festival and he was proud to be part of the celebrations, he added. This is the real Bengal and people should adhere to physical distancing, he said.

Earlier, the Prime Minister was welcomed by Union Minister Babul Supriyo with Rabindra Sangeet and blowing of conches. The virtual address was watched at several places in the state.

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Cities

Uttar Pradesh cop Intesar Ali suspended ober beard

Ali joined the police force as sub-inspector and was posted in Baghpat since the past three years.

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UP Police Inteshar Ali

Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh), Oct 22 : Sub-inspector in Uttar Pradesh Police, Intesar Ali, has been suspended and sent to the police lines, and all this for keeping a beard without permission.

Ali had been warned thrice to shave off or seek requisite permission for the same.

However, the policeman did not seek permission and continued to keep the beard.

SP Baghpat Abhishek Singh said that as per the police manual only Sikhs are allowed to keep a beard while all other policemen have to remain clean-shaven.

“If any police personnel want to keep a beard, he has to seek permission for the same. Intesar Ali was repeatedly asked to seek permission but he did not comply and kept the beard without permission,” the SP said.

Ali joined the police force as sub-inspector and was posted in Baghpat since the past three years.

He told reporters that he had applied permission to keep a beard but got no response.

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