Facebook previews Messenger Kids, new messaging and video chat for children

Facebook previews Messenger Kids, new messaging and video chat for children

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.

But instead of forbidding your kids from using ubiquitous social networking services like Facebook or Facebook Messenger, you could try setting up a limited account for them. "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. According to Facebook, 93% of 6- to 12-year-old children in the USA have access to smartphones and tablets, with about 80% of children in that same age range getting their first taste of social media, too.

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. While the app operates as its own version of Messenger, kid's accounts are actually nested under their parent's accounts.

Bernstein says Facebook's development of Messenger Kids is a way of reaching today's young internet-infatuated children so they can connect with friends and family safely with parental oversight and collaboration. The service won't show ads or collect data for marketing, the company said. Kids can only message other Facebook users approved by the adult.

Children can block and report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, which will immediately notify parents. They also have control over their kid's online activities.

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations

She said, "For a child who is just now starting out in social media to have certain restrictions and parental guidance, that is important". The app is launching for iPhone immediately, but will eventually come to Android and Amazon Fire devices.

Above: Image of Messenger Kids provided by 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.

YouTube has recently received criticism over concerns with its Kids app, which features videos tailored toward children.

"[Messenger Kids] doesn't overcome the issues of screen time and screen use and all the other issues that go with technology and kids", Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told The Post. 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.

Related Articles