Facebook Launches Messenger Kids For Children Below 13 With Parental Control

Lynne Hanson
December 5, 2017

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.

For starters, Messenger Kids doesn't require the creation of a Facebook account - instead, parents will create a Messenger Kids account for their child using their own Facebook account.

The firm's development of a kid-friendly messaging app comes in response to the wide volume of kids who already use tablets and smartphones.

Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has a new Messenger Kids app available.

Messenger Kids is the product of over 12 months of development by the Messenger team, which also spoke to hundreds of parents, primarily in the USA, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia.

Facebook says Messenger Kids does not have ads or in-app purchases, and none of the information about the children will be used for ads.

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

The new Facebook Messenger for kids app also has various features for children to enjoy.

When launching Messenger Kids, children will see a home screen that shows the contacts they can communicate with and when they're online.

The social network giant said children between the ages of 6 and 11 are most likely to gravitate toward the standalone app, raising concerns about its safety in the hands of such youngsters. "A website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent form a parent and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online".

Facebook said it consulted with 1200 parents plus online security and child development specialists, including the National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop. If two children want to be friends with each other, each will have to get parental approval for contact.

At the same time, parents were willing to let their children aged 6 to 12 use social media as long as there was strict parental control. 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 is still restricted to children age 13 and up. In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook. "But why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?" said Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, in a statement. 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.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

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His office has set up a webpage where people can search the FCC comment database and report fake submissions. But Schneiderman said that "unless we get the information from the FCC, it's anecdotal evidence".

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