As WhiteHat Jr was acquired by Byju's for $300 million, the edtech startup became part of the multi-billion dollar online education empire. WhiteHat Jr, which provides coding classes for children, has, however, invited the wrath of parents and some tech experts in the recent time for its strategy, especially for its policy against criticism on social media platforms.
Pradeep Poonia, a software engineer with Cisco, said his account kept getting suspended as he tried to post about WhiteHatJr.
"WhiteHat Jr and Byju's are misusing their position, for more than a month I have been trying to post about WhiteHatJr. On whichever platform I go to, either my accounts get suspended or my posts get deleted," he wrote ina LinkedIn blog.
He said his two Reddit accounts have been suspended permanently, one twitter account, two youtube accounts, 16 videos removed from youtube, and one Quora account temporarily suspended.
Questioning the startup's credentials, Poonia said, "WhiteHat Jr isn't letting me post any review about their platform. I started with a video titled ‘Who is Wolf Gupta?’. This particular video has been removed 3 times by now. @WhiteHatJr Why? We all know this kid is fictitious, does not exist. His age keeps on changing between 9-14 y/o. And his salary between 1.2 crores, 20 crores, and 150 crores. To some of you, it might be a normal marketing gimmick but most people would agree that this is not acceptable when target consumers are 6-year-old kids! Such ‘White’ lies are not allowed."
He also questioned such policy, asking if the society really want "kids to run this high salary rat race. "
"We all know the race never ends and its impact on stress levels. Do we want teenage kids to be concerned about 150 crore salaries or be just kids and enjoy their childhood?" he asked.
"And @WhiteHatJr claims to teach kids as young as 6-year-olds AI and ML and ‘Space Tech’. And their ads clearly mention that ‘Prior coding experience for teachers isn't needed’. What magical script have you come up with that you are doing these wonders? I saw their scripts, it even tells teachers when to smile, where to say hello, what fixed examples to give. I really don't think this is teaching. Every kid is different, everyone has different learning speeds and needs different examples. How would their single script be effective on lakhs of students? It will just create innumerous average coders. Our generation was running behind engineering and now it's the coding mania," he further writes.
"And what about kids? I thought we all were on the same page after the movie ‘Tareen Zameen Par’ but here we are again pushing kids into coding. Let 6 y/o play outdoors on swings and not ruin their childhood chasing after pipe dreams of a 150 crore salary. We all have seen the outcome of IIT/IIM tag frenzy. Many people got depressed, many innocent kids also took their lives. How hard will this 150 crore salary burst and how will teenagers cope up with it? This must stop or else soon 3 years old would be targeted," Poonia writes.
Pradeep Poonia is not the only person on social media who has written against the startup. From parents to celebrities, many have questioned the Byju's and WhiteHatJr's tactics. Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha and poet-lyricist Neelesh Misra were among those who tweeted about WhiteHatJr.