Facebook launches parent-controlled 'Messenger Kids' app

Angelica Greene
December 6, 2017

"We've been working closely with the FTC so we're lockstep with them".

Messenger Kids is an app aimed at users younger than 13, the minimum age at which people are allowed to sign up for a regular Facebook account.

However, youngsters will need parental approval before they can use the app.

Facebook added special proactive detection safety filters to prevent children from sharing sexual content, nudity or violence.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has criticised Facebook for "targeting younger children" by releasing a child-focused version of its Messenger app. Once the account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. Like the main Facebook network, users can report content inside Messenger Kids.

Kids still can't be found through Facebook search, which protects their privacy.

Moderated GIFs are also slated to be available from Giphy, however when we tested out the Messenger Kids app, that feature was not available. Kids can also play around with augmented reality masks and stickers, including fidget spinners and dinosaur AR masks. "Video calls become so much more playful with AR", says Marcus.

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Now finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you'll need to do is provide their name. A dedicated support team will work 24/7 to address any flagged issues. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve.

The app may be built for kids to use, but parents are the ones in the driver's seat.

In classic Facebook form, we've heard nothing official about the source of the problems, or when they're expected to be fixed.

"This app could put pressure on parents to introduce social media earlier to children who may not have developed the emotional resilience to cope with engaging with others online".

Facebook said the service would give children "positive, safer and age-appropriate" technology online. "Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)".

The Messenger Kids app is now only available in the U.S. and can be downloaded on iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store. But she said that while Facebook made the app "with the best of intentions", it's not yet known how people will actually use it. "They want a level of control over their kids' digital world that is similar to the level they have in the real world".

"When I was in my mid-twenties, you never think you're going to be gone, ever", Marcus admits.

Other reports by GizPress

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