Facebook launches Messenger Kids, a chat application for children

Like many online businesses, Facebook Inc. has had a long-standing rule prohibit children under 13 from having their own account. Today, the social media giant moved away from this restriction with the launch of Messenger children, a standalone chat app specially designed for young children.

“Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, keeping in touch with cousins ​​who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hello. , Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication for families, ”Facebook Product Management Director Loren Cheng said.

Facebook’s new app offers many of the same features as classic Facebook Messenger, including the ability to share photos and chat with both text and video, but Messenger Kids is a little different. The app has streamlined controls which are a bit easier for kids to navigate, and it has its own library of kid-friendly gifs and video filters.

Messenger Kids also offers a few additional features designed to keep children safe online. For example, only parents can create a Messenger Kids account.

After downloading Messenger Kids to a child’s device, parents need to authenticate the device using their own Facebook ID and password. They must then create a Messenger Kids account, which does not require any personal information other than the child’s name. The Messenger Kids account is directly linked to a parent’s account, and the parent can choose to lock the account at any time.

Parents must also approve each individual contact on Messenger Kids, ensuring that their children cannot chat with anyone without permission. It also means that contact between two children must be approved by both groups of parents. Messages sent to other children automatically go through the Messenger Kids app, but approved adult contacts can chat with children through Facebook Messenger.

Another big difference with Messenger Kids is that the app doesn’t display any ads, and Facebook has said that none of a child’s information is used for advertising purposes. Additionally, Messenger Kids is designed to be fully compliant with the Children’s Online Protection and Privacy Act, a law enforced by the United States Federal Trade Commission that governs how online services must protect information. personal belongings of children under 13.

Messenger Kids is currently only available to iOS users in the United States, but the Android and international versions of the app will be rolling out in the coming months.

Make apps safe and fun

To accompany today’s announcement of Messenger Kids, Facebook also published a new position in his “Difficult questions” series of blogs that discusses the challenges of dealing with a rapidly growing population of very young Internet users.

“I know I am not alone in the questions I have asked, the mistakes I have made and the concerns I have had as a parent when it comes to kids and technology,” wrote Antigone Davis, Global Head of Security at Facebook.

In his article, Davis cited a study by research firm Dubit Ltd., which found that 93% of children aged 6 to 12 in the United States have at least some access to a tablet or smartphone, and up to ‘to 66% have their own device. Davis added that many of these kids use apps aimed at teens and adults, including messaging and social media apps. According to a study conducted by a collaboration between Facebook and National PTA, 81% of parents surveyed said their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13.

Davis said Facebook has recognized the need to create a separate platform for kids that gives them the experiences they want while keeping parents in check.

“Kids have told us that the main reason they want to use social media and messaging platforms is to have fun, which means that an environment that emphasizes safety over joy and laughter will fail the customer satisfaction test – and potentially make children vulnerable. less controlled and riskier social environments, ”Davis said. “We believe it is possible to provide a fun experience for children that also offers parents more peace of mind.”

In addition to the release of Messenger Kids, Facebook also announced today that it has established a $ 1 million research fund to explore the long-term impact of technology on children.

Photos: Facebook

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