Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

13 & under: Facebook launches Messenger for Kids

13 & under: Facebook launches Messenger for Kids

All in all, it sounds like this will be a good app to use if you want to allow your children to communicate with friends and family from their smart device without exposing them to the whole of Facebook.

Unlike the regular Messenger app, the Kids version doesn't require the user - the child in this case - to have a Facebook account or phone number.

Some parents told FOX10 they still won't let their kids use the app. Bethany Zitzmann said, "I appreciate the concept, but I don't see a need for children's between the ages of 6 and 12 to be on social media in general".

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.

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Right now, you can only do that in a feature-crippled Messenger Kids app available as a preview on United States iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches, but a Google Play and Amazon App Store expansion will definitely happen "in the coming months", and the general concept might be something worth exploring for the larger Facebook platform as well. Loren Cheng, Facebook's product management director, said the company consulted with several groups including parents, experts in child development and children's media, in creating the app. It lets them do video chats and send photos, videos and texts. 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. The company also says Messenger Kids won't show ads or collect data for marketing. Kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts.

Parents can remove contacts from the app, and children can't reinstate them. Android users will also get a version of the Messenger Kids at some point in the future.

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.

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes. "A child does not have the cognitive maturity or impulse control to properly manage their time and use on digital platforms", Hempe said. 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. It also includes a GIFs section for choosing images to send to friends, but content in the section is regulated by Facebook. 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.

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