Local experts urge caution over Facebook's new Messenger Kids app

Alan Olson
December 7, 2017

From there, you will see all the available controls, such as the ability to add people to your child's approved contact list.

Lavallee, who is the content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, said about the Messenger Kids a "useful tool" that "makes parents the gatekeepers". "Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)".

To access the parental controls panel for Messenger Kids, go to the main Facebook app on your device, then click on "More" on the bottom right corner, followed by "Messenger Kids" in the Explore section.

Jenny Radesky, a paediatrics professor at the University of MI, told the Wall Street Journal: "In my research, clinical work and friendships, I've never heard parents say that they want their child using social media earlier".

Parents must then sign off on all their child's contacts, meaning that in theory they can not speak to anyone through the app without parental permission.

The outage follows a similar problem for Facebook Messenger on November 30, when users reported being unable to send messages.

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Despite Kaspersky Labs vouching on how secure the app is, the cybersecurity company still warns parents of Messenger Kids, particularly on text filtering and cyberbullying.

Among them: Will it always remain ad-free, as well will the parents get ads based on the service?

The child would not be given their own Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13. Facebook also said your child's information won't be used for adverts. Facebook's safeguards have made it more hard for strangers to contact a child, they said.

Messenger Kids may seem to be another unnecessary app as children do have means to contact friends and family, but as Facebook's Public Policy Director Antigone Davis puts it, "Children today are online earlier and earlier". Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year. Face filters and playful masks will be distracting for adults, Lavallee stated, but for kids, this feature is going to be interesting as this will be let them learning just how to form relationships and stay in touch with parents as well also teaches kids the way to express themselves.

Until this year, even big tech companies had been loath to set up children's sites with a parental consent system lest they violate the law.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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