Facebook for kids: welcome to messenger for six-year-olds

07 December, 2017, 02:31 | Author: Grady King
  • Facebook for kids: welcome to messenger for six-year-olds

This week Facebook rolled out a new social media app for children between six and 12 years old called "Messenger Kids". "Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children".

According to the BBC's North America technology reporter, Dave Lee, the prevention methods to stop under-age children using Facebook are "trivial", meaning more than 20 million under-13-year-olds are thought to be using the network.

You won't need an official Facebook account to use the app but a profile will have to set up by a parent or guardian using their own account. But on Monday, the tech firm said it was rolling out a messaging app that will let children under that age send texts, photos and videos, and add stickers, frames and filters to their images.

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The idea is to make sure that parents have full control over the online experience of their children, and Messenger Kids is one such app created to open lines of communication along the way.

Whilst kids can use the social media apps and the messaging apps which are designed for the adults and teenagers, those services aren't built for them, stated Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert, she suggested the Facebook on designing the service.

In a blog post for the launch, Facebook's Loren Cheng said: "Today, parents are increasingly allowing their children to use tablets and smartphones, but often have questions and concerns about how their kids use them and which apps are appropriate". Facebook, however, said it launched Messenger Kids after talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA and parenting experts.

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"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". "Parents want to know they're in control".

The child would not be given their own Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics provided some guidelines that parents may follow in monitoring their kids' use of Facebook, and other forms of digital content. In layman's terms, it means kids get all the perks of video chatting and parents get peace of mind knowing that they're only allowed to talk to preapproved contacts. Magid said it may be more realistic to encourage companies to create safer, more limited and legally compliant services as a sort of "training wheels" version of more mainstream social media.

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