Facebook rolls out kids version of Messenger

Cesar Mills
December 5, 2017

Facebook's child-friendly venture comes as other tech companies like YouTube struggle with kid content on their platform. It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices.

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.

Facebook has launched a stand-alone mobile app that allows minors to communicate with their parents and parent-approved friends. While the app operates as its own version of Messenger, kid's accounts are actually nested under their parent's accounts. Melanie Hempe, of Families Managing Media, a company dedicated to helping families instill good technology and social media habits, told the Daily News that kids as young as 6 should not be using social media. Millions of parents are part of Messenger community and they asked us for controllable solutions that let them message with their children.

Messenger Kids is designed for kids and helps them in connecting with family and close friends.

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. A child can't even create an account on his or her own - a parent must do it for them.

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At this time, Messenger Kids will be available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone devices for those in the United States, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.

Like any business, Facebook's goals shouldn't be viewed as entirely altruistic, even if Messenger Kids is free to download and use.

Facebook rolled out a preview Monday of Messenger Kids, a new app designed specifically for kids, allowing them to video chat and send message to friends and family. 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. It's a restrictive system, but one that highlights how tricky it is to give children access to social media, and particularly an app that's operated by one of the world's largest (and most controversial) social media firms. It's just like regular Messenger, but an age-appropriate version. Further, there would be no advertisements in Messenger Kids, and parents would be able to communicate with Messenger Kids using their existing Messenger app.

"I think it's very important that parents know who their kids are talking to. 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.

Other reports by GizPress

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