Facebook Launches New Messenger Kids App

05 December, 2017, 02:41 | Author: Carmen Reese
  • Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations

But instead of forbidding your kids from using ubiquitous social networking services like Facebook or Facebook Messenger, you could try setting up a limited account for them.

Messenger for Kids launched Monday and is now only available through the Apple App Store, with Amazon and Google Play appearing "in the coming months", the Facebook press release said.

The stand-alone app on children's devices can be controlled by a parent's Facebook account that will allow kids to use video chat and send photos, videos or text messages to friends approved by their parents. The service won't let children add their own friends or delete messages - only parents can do that.

Sounds entertaining... enough, but also safe and practical for parents constantly anxious with the perils of the open web.

When it comes to ads, Facebook said it will also not use data from Messenger Kids for Facebook ads. Among them: Will it always remain ad-free, and will parents get ads based on the service? In a study conducted by Facebook and the National Parent Teacher Association, 81% of 1,200 American parents surveyed reported that their children started using social media apps between the ages of eight and 13.

The application is available for preview in the USA and will roll out to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch initially. With Messenger Kids, she said, Facebook has thought through what's appropriate for kids.

Lavallee, who is content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, called Messenger Kids a "useful tool" that "makes parents the gatekeepers".

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations

Messenger Kids is the product of over 12 months of development by the Messenger team, which also spoke to hundreds of parents, primarily in the USA, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia. But that safety depends on the fact that kids won't know their parents' Facebook passwords.

The data it will collect is "to do things like display the previous messages in a conversation, to put most frequent contacts at the top of the contact list".

Messenger Kids will be downloaded onto a child's device but will be controlled by the parent.

An October study from Common Sense found that children 8 and under now average almost 2 ¹/₂ hours a day of screen time - with 48 of those minutes clocked from a mobile device.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said.

"We've engaged with over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety, and children's media and technology who've helped inform our approach to building our first app for kids", the Facebook announcement said. This is why Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit younger kids from joining. Facebook also said it will not automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company may provide them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.

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