Facebook Messenger Kids goes heavy on parental controls for safe chatting

05 December, 2017, 02:17 | Author: Brenda Erickson
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This experience is tailored to devices that are given to kids, not the smartphones or tablets that parents use, which may already have a Messenger app installed.

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 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.

Messenger Kids comes with a slew of controls for parents.

"When we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside with the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking", Cheng said in a statement.

"Right now for kids, the time they spend on devices is very passive", David Marcus, vice president for messaging products at Facebook, told the New York Times. Every additional friend request must be approved by the parent.

The app is only available in the United States for iOS platform.

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Kids will be able to send photos, videos or other messages to relatives or other contacts accessible through the primary Messenger app, and vice versa.

"There's really a gap in the market for a messaging app for kids that also gives parents control", Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson said. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids. Messenger Kids presents another way to tap into a subset of the younger demographic. The app has also been designed with privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act in mind.

She said, "For a child who is just now starting out in social media to have certain restrictions and parental guidance, that is important". Davis said that Facebook spoke with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the app complies with COPPA. It's a restrictive system, but one that highlights how tricky it is to give children access to social media, and particularly an app that's operated by one of the world's largest (and most controversial) social media firms.

At the same time, Facebook is promising not to sell ads into the Messenger Kids stream nor to automatically move the kids onto Facebook when they are eligible.

Parents can remove contacts from the app, and children can't reinstate them. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year.

Messenger Kids will also allow kids to send GIFs and stickers like the full-fledged Messenger, but will have them choose from a curated selection of age-appropriate materials.

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