Facebook debuts new Messenger app for kids 6 and up

  • Facebook debuts new Messenger app for kids 6 and up

Facebook debuts new Messenger app for kids 6 and up

Kids can only chat with people who are Facebook friends with their parents, meaning the parent must be friends with the other parents. The app is created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). Parents are then notified through messenger and Facebook will remove content or kids who repeatedly violate the company's Community Standards. Messenger Kids comes with built-in parental controls, which means parents will be able to decide what they're children see, and more importantly, what they don't. As is the case with the regular Facebook app, the camera in Messenger Kids is loaded with stickers and effects - all of which have been made specifically for the child-friendly app and aren't available in Facebook's other services. Melanie Hempe, of Families Managing Media, a company dedicated to helping families instill good technology and social media habits, told the Daily News that kids as young as 6 should not be using social media.

Loren Cheng, a product management director at Facebook, said: "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". The app was 18 months in development, Svensson said.

The Internet can be a scary, risky place for children, even when parents go to great lengths to control what content, videos, apps and games their offsprings are allowed to access on specially designed tablets and wearable devices. Facebook will also not use child's information for ads.

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Messenger Kids, which is rolling out in the United States in the Apple app store, is a standalone product. "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. 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. In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook. We'll let you know when that Android version eventually launches, but for now, head down to the comments section and give us your take on Messenger Kids.

Facebook says it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or to Facebook when they get old enough.

Facebook said it consulted with 1200 parents plus online security and child development specialists, including the National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop. 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.