Facebook's Messenger Kids: Parents grapple with social media dilemma

07 December, 2017, 02:33 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Facebook Messenger is down and people can't cope

The main catch is that these kids can only engage Facebook users through the new app as long as their parents or guardians approve of them. The narrowed app was designed after consultation with hundreds of parents and several children's advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Facebook said.

Torn between the benefits and drawbacks of social media, Leigh Turberville Harrell hasn't decided yet whether to let her children use Facebook's new messaging app for kids.

The app offers a simplified version of the standard Messenger, requiring explicit parental approval and excluding some features.

Facebook also said the app was in line with child online safety and privacy laws in the US.

And as parents struggle to get their children to stop staring at their tablets and smartphones, they're wondering if messaging apps are worth the convenience.

Nationwide, parents like Harrell are facing a familiar dilemma: At what age should they allow their kids to use social media?

They can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts - directly from the home screen. For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts.

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In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook. It's heavy on visuals and includes video chat and group video chat options.


On the last Monday, the Messenger Kids came out in the U.S. as an app for Apple devices - the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Other parental controls include account creation, blocking, reporting, and account deletion.

And messages don't disappear and can't be hidden in case parents want to monitor them, Facebook says on its website.

No. There are no adverts in Messenger Kids. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided some guidelines that parents may follow in monitoring their kids' use of Facebook, and other forms of digital content. "It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases", Cheng added, as quoted by The Verge.

The app, which will be in a preview release on iOS devices before rolling out to a wider audience, is Facebook's latest effort to increase the number of people who rely on its service to connect with one another regularly. Magid said it may be more realistic to encourage companies to create safer, more limited and legally compliant services as a sort of "training wheels" version of more mainstream social media. Well, when will it be available we don't know that.

Visit messengerkids.com or check out Facebook's blog post.

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