Facebook reveals controversial new Messenger app aimed at kids under 13 (although their parents will have to approve who they can talk to)
- Messenger Kids is standalone app that can be controlled from parent’s Facebook
- Using the app will not create a Facebook account for the child, the firm says
- Kids will not be able to connect with people their parents have not approved
- There are no ads or in-app purchases, and kids can't delete messages in the app?
Facebook is coming for your kids.
The social media giant is launching a messaging app for children to chat with their parents and with friends approved by their parents.
The free app is aimed at kids under 13, who can't yet have their own accounts under Facebook's rules, though they often do.
Facebook said Messenger Kids won't show ads or collect data for marketing. Facebook also said it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company might give them the option to move contacts down the line
HOW IT WILL WORK?
Messenger Kids is a standalone app that can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook app.
While it can be used on a child’s own device, the service will not create a Facebook account for the kid, or give them access to their parents’ accounts.
After setting up the account, parents can approve the contacts they will allow their child to chat with.
Kids cannot connect with contacts that have not been approved by their parents, according to Facebook.
Children also won't be able to delete messages.?
The app does not contain adds, and has no in-app purchases.
Children will be able to video chat, sent photos, videos, and text messages to their approved contacts.
Messenger Kids comes with a slew of controls for parents.?
The service won't let children add their own friends or delete messages - only parents can do that.?
Kids don't get a separate Facebook or Messenger account; rather, it's an extension of a parent's account.
While children do use messaging and social media apps designed for teenagers and adults, those services aren't built for them, said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service.
'The risk of exposure to things they were not developmentally prepared for is huge,' she said.
Messenger Kids, meanwhile, 'is a result of seeing what kids like,' which is images, emoji and the like.?
Face filters and playful masks can be distracting for adults, Lavallee said, but for kids who are just learning how to form relationships and stay in touch with parents digitally, they are ways to express themselves.
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.'?
But she said that while Facebook made the app 'with the best of intentions,' it's not yet known how people will actually use it.
As with other tools Facebook has released in the past, intentions and real-world use do not always match up.?
HOW TO SET IT UP?
Facebook is launching the messaging app for children to chat with their parents and with friends approved by their parents. The free app is aimed at kids under 13, who can't yet have their own accounts under Facebook's rules, though they often do
Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store.
Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child’s device using your own Facebook username and password. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.
Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you’ll need to do is provide their name. Then the device can be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.
Add contacts: To add people to your child’s approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on “More” on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section
Facebook's live video streaming feature, for example, has been used for plenty of innocuous and useful things, but also to stream crimes and suicides.
Is Messenger Kids simply a way for Facebook to rope in the young ones?
Stephen Balkam, CEO of the nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute, said 'that train has left the station.'
?Messenger Kids comes with a slew of controls for parents. The service won't let children add their own friends or delete messages - only parents can do that
Federal law prohibits internet companies from collecting personal information on kids under 13 without their parents' permission and imposes restrictions on advertising to them.?
This is why Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit younger kids from joining.?
Even so, Balkam said millions of kids under 13 are already on Facebook, with or without their parents' approval.
He said Facebook is trying to deal with the situation pragmatically by steering young Facebook users to a service designed for them.
Facebook said Messenger Kids won't show ads or collect data for marketing.?
Facebook also said it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company might give them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.
Messenger Kids is launching Monday in the U.S. on Apple devices - the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.?
Versions for Android and Amazon's tablets are coming later.
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