Facebook rolls out messenger app for kids

05 December, 2017, 02:13 | Author: Sherri Guerrero
  • AFP 2017 JONATHAN NACKSTRAND Facebook to Launch Tool Telling Users if They Interacted With Russia Sponsored Content

The app, Messenger for Kids, will allow parents to have control over who their child chats or video calls with, as the app will be a part of the parents' own Facebook account.

And Facebook indicated that it won't use Messenger Kids to monetize children directly - there won't be any ads or in-app purchases. "These are simple questions that parents need answers to before they sign their kids up", said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes online safety for children, in a statement.

Facebook has started rolling out the new app in the US, allowing kids who are otherwise restricted by age to join the social networking site.

Facebook notes that once users turn 13, they won't be automatically be migrated to the full-scale messenger, nor will a Facebook account automatically be created for them.

Messenger Kids will be available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone devices for those in the United States, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months. It's heavy on visuals and includes video chat and group video chat options. Davis said that if a parent decides to delete a child's account, Facebook will also delete any data from its own servers.

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Facebook is launching a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals. Facebook said it has also created privacy and security measures to give parents transparency and control over their kids' online activities.

So it comes as little surprise then that Facebook says the majority of parents with young children are concerned about their kids potentially interacting with strangers online.

Dr. Lewis Bernstein, former executive vice president of Education, Research and Outreach for the Sesame Workshop, compares the development of Messenger Kids over the last 18 months to those early years of developing "Sesame Street", the long-running, iconic show that now airs on HBO and re-airs on PBS. In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook.

If your kids are going to message friends and family, wouldn't you rather have them do it safely and securely? And approved adults can chat with the child using regular Messenger. The app, which does not require a phone number for making an account, rules out the possibility of anyone outside the contact list from connecting with the kid. That means when a child reports a conversation that they find offensive or block an individual user in the app (or vice versa), the parent is notified on Facebook. That's a departure from Facebook's approach in the past, as when it required users to download the separate Messenger app in 2014 in order to send direct messages on Facebook.

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