Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the us and will be targeting 6 to 13-year-olds with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app. Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger.
Parents of children that use the new Facebook Messenger for kids app have the ability to select who that child can keep in contact with.
There already are a handful of other apps that children can use with parental consent, and kids can communicate with each other using texting on cellpones. 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. Right now Messenger Kids is designed for sending messages and video chatting, but Facebook hasn't ruled out the possibility of adding new features as it learns more about how people use the app.
Other companies such as YouTube, which has a version of its video app for children, have faced criticism for letting content that's inappropriate for kids slip through its filters.More news: Former US Marine convicted of killing, raping 20-year-old Japanese woman
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Facebook says it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or to Facebook when they get old enough. The child will not have his or her own Facebook account. "They want a level of control over their kids' digital world that is similar to the level they have in the real world", says Facebook's public policy director Antigone Davis. Facebook said it was fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and that it had worked with online safety experts including the National PTA and Blue Star Families.
There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes. It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices.
Facebook also said that it will block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content, and have a dedicated moderation team to respond to flagged content. According to one USA Today report, "It's a grown-up problem for Facebook which needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood". "We're going to see how kids are using it, and that will allow us to add updates in future versions as necessary".
Major tech firms have recently released more products that allow children to engage within the limits of the privacy law - and that reach more of the country's approximately 50 million children under the age of 13 in the process.