Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

Facebook won't monetize Messenger Kids app.

"Many of us at Facebook are parents, and naturally we're thinking about technology's role in the lives of children and families", Antigone Davis, Facebook's Public Policy Director and Global Head of Safety, wrote in an article in Facebook's Newsroom addressing the new Messenger app.

Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the us and will be targeting 6 to 13-year-olds with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app. Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger.

If your kids are going to message friends and family, wouldn't you rather have them do it safely and securely? 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.

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Messenger Kids is designed for kids and helps them in connecting with family and close friends. This, combined with the fact that parents have to approve each of their children's contacts, should prevent phony accounts from appearing on the platform, a practice that's become a huge problem for Facebook.

The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the USA for the timebeing.

Parents can download and install the app on child's phone or tablet and create a profile with the name.

No ads means that Facebook will collect "little data" since it won't be doing targeted advertising towards kids on Messenger Kids. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids. Oh, and don't worry about ads, child info harvested for ads, installation costs or in-app purchases. It's completely independent of the flagship Facebook and Messenger apps, and is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act.

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Messenger Kids may be completely separate from Facebook's other apps, but a lot of the parental management happens through Facebook. It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices.

At the same time, parents were willing to let their children aged 6 to 12 use social media as long as there was strict parental control. Facebook has been focusing on capturing younger users as it faces competition from Snapchat.

Above: Image of Messenger Kids provided by Facebook. Parents can also remove people from a child's contact list at any time as well. Robinson said she might give Messenger Kids a try.

It's worth noting here that Facebook itself remains closed to those under 13 years of age. 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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