Facebook Creates Messenger for Kids

Cesar Mills
December 8, 2017

While children do use messaging and social media apps designed for teenagers and adults, those services aren't built for them, said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service. The company also said it will not automatically migrate Messenger Kids accounts into Facebook pages when the app's users turn 13.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyNet neutrality supporters predict tough court battle over FCC's repeal plan Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Driverless auto bill hits Senate speed bump MORE (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who are both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, expressed their concerns in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday.

"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA and parenting experts in the USA, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want", said Loren Cheng, a product management director at Facebook.

"Children today are online earlier and earlier", she said in a statement. "It's just like setting up a play date", Davis said.

"This app has the potential to provide a safe space for children entering the digital world, but it does raise a number of privacy and security concerns", the senators wrote in a letter to Mr. Zuckerberg released by Mr. Markey's office. 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. But with technology moving deeper into the home and many firms looking for more growth, children have become a more attractive market.

It is noted that children will be able to complain about those users who are rude when communicating.

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It will allow children and adolescents to exchange messages and video calls without account registration. The app does not contain ads and is free of in-app purchases. The FTC did not respond to a request for comment.

It has been reported that Facebook now has a little-known "Youth Team" of about 100 staff working specifically on engaging with the younger market, as it continues to compete with the likes of Snapchat and Instagram for the teen market.

Messenger Kids will still collect data: the child's name, the content of the messages, and typical usage reports for how the app is used.

Children aged 6-12 are allowed to use Messenger Kids, which is now only available for users in the United States.

Federal law prohibits Internet companies from collecting personal information on kids under 13 without their parents' permission and imposes restrictions on advertising to them. Parents can then create a profile for the child as an extension of their own Facebook account.

"So when we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside with the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking".

Other reports by GizPress

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