Facebook Introduces Messenger Kids, A Chat App For Kids Under 13
05 December, 2017, 02:40 | Author: Grady King
For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts.
The app itself is visually oriented, as children tend to prefer real-time video chats, Facebook told Engadget.
Most kids tend to use tablets or iPod Touches that don't have phone numbers, so normal texting and video chats are a no-go (unless it's with mommy's phone, which isn't always great for mommy). The app has also been designed with privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act in mind.
At the same time, parents were willing to let their children aged 6 to 12 use social media as long as there was strict parental control. Messenger Kids comes with built-in parental controls, which means parents will be able to decide what they're children see, and more importantly, what they don't.
While Facebook saidMessenger Kids won't display ads, some consumer advocacy groups still have privacy concerns.
The app became available to preview download starting Monday.
Messenger Kids is a training wheels version of its full-fledged product - which will allow children to exchange messages and photos with friends and family as well as video chats.
Messenger Kids, which is rolling out in the United States in the Apple app store, is a standalone product. She said: "The risk of exposure to things [children] were not developmentally prepared for is huge".
"We've engaged with over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety, and children's media and technology who've helped inform our approach to building our first app for kids", the Facebook announcement said. Parents are then notified through messenger and Facebook will remove content or kids who repeatedly violate the company's Community Standards. 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.
Facebook said it will collect some data, including a child's name, the content of their messages and data about how the app is being used - even if it is not as extensive as the information it asks from adults. Among them: Will it always remain ad-free, and will parents get ads based on the service?
Messenger Kids, meanwhile, "is a result of seeing what kids like", which is images, emoji and the like.
It's "The Social Network" meets "Sesame Street". The control panel for Messenger Kids is located in the main Facebook app.
An October study from Common Sense found that children 8 and under now average almost 2 ¹/₂ hours a day of screen time - with 48 of those minutes clocked from a mobile device. Facebook also said it will not automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company may provide them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line. "They need to be outside, interacting with their friends (and family) in person and learning how to have real conversation and social skills", Hempe said.
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