Facebook App For iPhone Aimed At Catering to Child Users

Reuters  Regis DuvignauFacebook's Messenger Kids allows for parent-controlled Messenger accounts for children

Reuters Regis DuvignauFacebook's Messenger Kids allows for parent-controlled Messenger accounts for children

Facebook has rolled out a preview of Messenger Kids, a new app created to make it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends, in the US.

Facebook has touted the app as a way for families to better connect and parents to keep their kids safe. Soon there will be a version for users of the Android platform.

Facebook says that the Messenger Kids app will not have any ads, and promises that your child's information won't be used for ads.

"The recently updated guidelines for children's media use from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend families to develop a personalized Family Media Use Plan, and Messenger Kids should be part of this plan to restrict time spent on the app and make sure it enhances children's healthy development".

Otherwise, the social giant has provided only limited, basic details about the privacy protections baked into Messenger Kids.

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"I'm an avid social media user, but I don't feel my kids need more social interaction", said Quirion, 39, whose three children are between ages 3 and 9.

"We remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what objective it could be used", they wrote.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said.

Parental control doesn't end at the inception of the account; contacts can only be added if mum, dad or the relevant guardian say so. "In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone", Facebook's head of Messenger David Marcus notes. The service won't allow children to add their own friends or delete messages - only parents can do that.

A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities. On one side are parents such as Matt Quirion of Washington, who said Facebook's snaking its way into his children's lives at an early age would most likely do more harm than good. However, the parent's approval is needed before their names can actually appear on the authorized contact list.

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Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child's device using your own Facebook username and password. "Facebook needs to provide assurances that this "walled garden" service they describe is fully protective of children". Thus, instead of signing into Facebook, they can communicate with their family or friends via Messenger Kids.

On Monday, Facebook announced its newest child-friendly application, Messenger Kids, now rolling out among iOS users in the United States. To get there, click on "More" on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click "Messenger Kids" in the Explore section.

Facebook said that Messenger Kids will have no ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.

"Given the sensitive nature of children's personal information, Messenger Kids must take responsible steps to protect their privacy and comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)", responded Mr. Markey and Mr. Blumenthal, both members of the Senate Commerce Committee. Facebook has announced that the app will be coming to the Amazon App Store and the Google Play Store in the coming months.

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