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undergroundnewsroom.com December 18, 2017


Facebook debuts new Messenger app for kids 6 and up

05 December 2017, 02:18 | Jenny Fowler

Above Facebook for Kids Image Credit Paul Sawers VentureBeat

Above Facebook for Kids Image Credit Paul Sawers  VentureBeat

"Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families", Loren Cheng, product management director at Facebook, said in a blog post.

Facebook has launched a new standalone app "Messenger Kids" aimed at kids. From there, parents will be able to add and remove contacts to a child's account.

As for why Facebook is launching the app, the company said in email that "many of us at Facebook are parents ourselves, and it seems we weren't alone when we realized that our kids were getting online earlier and earlier", citing an external study from Dubit that found that 93% of six to 12-year-olds in the USA have access to tablets or smartphones.

Facebook notes that once users turn 13, they won't be automatically be migrated to the full-scale messenger, nor will a Facebook account automatically be created for them. Messenger Kids is designed as a legal way for kids to participate. Then, children can text chat or video message the contacts, using child-friendly emoji, gifs and Snapchat-like filters and masks.

Facebook outlines what data it collects from Messenger Kids in its privacy policy.

Above Messenger Kids
Above Messenger Kids

"I think it's very important that parents know who their kids are talking to". Parents manager their child's account through their own Facebook page. The app gives parents control over how long their kids can use the app. Facebook said it was fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and that it had worked with online safety experts including the National PTA and Blue Star Families. The reasoning behind this, says Facebook, is to avoid forcing parents and other relatives to download an extra app. The app is launching for iPhone immediately, but will eventually come to Android and Amazon Fire devices. And approved adults can chat with the child using regular Messenger.

This is the first time Facebook has developed an app specifically for kids.

Now the app is only available for iOS, although Android support is expected. The app, which does not require a phone number for making an account, rules out the possibility of anyone outside the contact list from connecting with the kid. According to one USA Today report, "It's a grown-up problem for Facebook which needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood".

Facebook also said that it will block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content, and have a dedicated moderation team to respond to flagged content.

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