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13 & under: Facebook launches Messenger for Kids
05 December 2017, 01:55 | Bernard Bryant
Image Source Facebook
"The parent really is helping to establish that social community", said Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of global security and families. It's completely independent of the flagship Facebook and Messenger apps, and is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices. Messenger Kids users can do numerous same things users of the regular Messenger app can do - send text-based messages, video chat, tack on virtual stickers and face masks - but with stricter rules and parental controls in place.
The social network giant said children between the ages of 6 and 11 are most likely to gravitate toward the standalone app, raising concerns about its safety in the hands of such youngsters.
"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. The company stated that they have consulted hundreds of parent and children advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, before coming up with Messenger Kids.
"[Messenger Kids] doesn't overcome the issues of screen time and screen use and all the other issues that go with technology and kids", Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told The Post.
"Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love". She said: "The risk of exposure to things [children] were not developmentally prepared for is huge". All in all, it sounds like this will be a good app to use if you want to allow your children to communicate with friends and family from their smart device without exposing them to the whole of Facebook. The new app gives it a chance to win brand loyalty from younger children at a time when it faces competition for teenagers from other social media platforms such as Snapchat.
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Facebook rolled out Monday a version of its popular Messenger app for kids under 13. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases in the app, and Facebook says it can detect certain types of abusive content and prevent it from appearing in Messenger Kids. That means when a child reports a conversation that they find offensive or block an individual user in the app (or vice versa), the parent is notified on Facebook.
"I think it's very important that parents know who their kids are talking to".
The Messenger Kids app on an iPad.
Underage users will not be automatically moved to the regular Messenger or Facebook accounts when they become old enough, the company said. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account. Facebook won't migrate kids over to its "adult" apps when children reach that age, but it's easy to see that happening on its own.
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