Facebook rolls out kids version of Messenger

Alyssa Bailey
December 5, 2017

Messenger Kids is a standalone app installed on the child's tablet or smartphone, but controlled from a parent's Facebook account.

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, world's biggest social media platform, on Monday launched its messenger app for children below the age of 13.

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. As is the case with the regular Facebook app, the camera in Messenger Kids is loaded with stickers and effects - all of which have been made specifically for the child-friendly app and aren't available in Facebook's other services.

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.

Facebook outlines what data it collects from Messenger Kids in its privacy policy.

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Parents can remove contacts from the app, and children can't reinstate them.

Messenger Kids may be completely separate from Facebook's other apps, but a lot of the parental management happens through Facebook. Both parents and kids can report inappropriate content and block other users; parents are notified from their standard Messenger apps when their kids report other users or if their kids are reported by others.

The company spent months talking to parenting groups, child behavioral experts and safety organizations to develop the app, which should be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act.

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. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year. 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. Facebook has been focusing on capturing younger users as it faces competition from Snapchat. That is still restricted to children age 13 and up.

Parents have to be Facebook friends with the parents of any kid that their kid wants to talk to, a Facebook product manager said at a press briefing, according to BuzzFeed.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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