Facebook Launches 'Messenger Kids' For Under-13 Users

Facebook Launches 'Messenger Kids' For Under-13 Users

Facebook Launches 'Messenger Kids' For Under-13 Users

"We understand that this is extraordinarily frightening", explained Facebook Head of Global Safety Antigone Davis. This is why Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit younger kids from joining. "It's just like setting up a play date", Davis said. Facebook has developed a number of kid-friendly masks, stickers, and frames for kids to use during video calls, and they can even browse and send a curated collection of age-appropriate GIFs. 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. For starters, Messenger Kids doesn't require the creation of a Facebook account - instead, parents will create a Messenger Kids account for their child using their own Facebook account.

To ensure that the app does not meddle in any controversy, consent of a parent is important before registering for the app or adding new contacts.

Facebook's expansion into this market raised some alarm bells. Among them: Will it always remain ad-free, and will parents get ads based on the service?

Facebook Messenger Kids "makes parents the gatekeepers" and was designed "with the best of intentions", Lavallee said. What data are they collecting and exactly how are they using it?

Kids profile will not be available on Facebook search to protect their privacy.

The Fountas family got a chance to try out the app.

It's "The Social Network" meets "Sesame Street". But, she warned, many products that start as noncommercial can change over time. "So it's not like anyone else can look up your child", she said. "I think we're at an interesting moment, and there are a lot of moves into that marketplace". And Facebook indicated that it won't use Messenger Kids to monetize children directly - there won't be any ads or in-app purchases. That's simple really: It's all about getting kids on board earlier so that they are "Facebook-aware" by the time they hit 13. Facebook's safeguards have made it more hard for strangers to contact a child, they said. As you can probably guess from the name alone, this is a new version of Messenger that has plenty of parental restrictions in place, making it a safe way for children to stay in touch with family members and friends.

Watch out for Messenger Kids in the app store over the next few days. The company has no plans to release a similar kids-only platform for its other main social network, Instagram.

Facebook says the Messenger Kids project was developed while working closely with child development experts with consideration for questions like "is there a "right age" to introduce kids to the digital world?"

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. "They need to be outside, interacting with their friends (and family) in person and learning how to have real conversation and social skills", Hempe said.

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