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CTR February 2018
Vol. 26 No. 2 Issue 216

Download this issue as a PDF
Puppy Love, A Dozen Math Gems, Spatial Education and The Messenger Kids Mess
"Facebook’s powerful Messenger Kids will open a much-needed line of communication between children and parents. We applaud this type of leadership." From the KAPi Award Juror Comments, at

“It’s galling to see Facebook target young children at a time when evidence is mounting that excessive social media use negatively impacts kids and teens’ well being. Silicon Valley executives must decide if they care about the welfare of children, families, and society, or only about hooking users and pursuing profits.” The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, From

So... who's right? Is Messanger Kids leadership or simply all about hooking page views earlier? 

In an essay called “Facebook’s Messenger for Kids Comes Under Attack; We Gave it An Award” the KAPi award creator Robin Raskin provides lends some clarity to both positions. Raskin, a former Editor of Family PC and frequent Dust or Magic speaker writes: 

“Is Messenger Kids perfect? Not by a long shot. Are their ulterior motives? Possibly. Does Facebook want to prime the next generation as users? You betcha. So does Apple and Microsoft with their ambitious offerings into schools. Are kids as young as six too young to be texting? That depends. Once a day to a travelling parent? A way to do homework with a friend? There are a host of good reasons for kids to learn to text. We applaud the efforts of the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood for have people think of the consequences before they adopt a technology. What the group misses, though, is that screen time is no longer separate from active time and that kids are surprisingly versatile at intermixing the two. And like it or not most kids are using devices and tablets, often to message people. Speaking for the KAPi judges we’re going to stick by our award. The more you can tie the family together in online activities, the better off you’ll be.”

As one of the dozen jurors for this year’s KAPi award, I agree with Robin’s position, and feel that it is important for all adults to know the specific strengths and weaknesses of any new product. Providing objective knowledge is the mission of CTR. If you’re curious about Messenger Kids start with the full review at Let us know what you think.

Enjoy the issue, and have a happy February! 


LittleClickers: Puppy Love (sites and videos about puppies)

You asked: A Dozen Math Gems (from the CTREX archives)

Scott Traylor: Spatial Education (a roundup of apps for helping children develop Spatial Logic abilities.

Coming next month: The BolognaRagazzi Digital Award Winners, and News from Toy Fair.

March 25, 2018 • Bologna Masterclass Meet and debate current technology with children’s publishers at the world’s largest children’s publishing event.

June 1-3, 2018 • AppCamp The West Coast edition of Dust or Magic, at the Asilomar Conference Grounds. $1480/seat.

Learn more at