Facebook Messenger for Kids

Facebook Messenger Kids

With more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook can't exactly guarantee that it's going to be a safe place for kids.

Facebook has launched a new standalone app "Messenger Kids" aimed at kids. Facebook says it will have an Android version of the app ready to go soon, but for now, kids are limited to chatting on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

Facebook announced they are launching a Messenger app for children as young as 6 years old.

Today, we're excited to introduce Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can't be together in person.

To ensure that the app does not meddle in any controversy, consent of a parent is important before registering for the app or adding new contacts. That's a departure from Facebook's approach in the past, as when it required users to download the separate Messenger app in 2014 in order to send direct messages on Facebook. From there, parents will be able to add and remove contacts to a child's account.

When it comes to ads, Facebook said it will also not use data from Messenger Kids for Facebook ads. Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids.

Facebook Messenger for Kids
Facebook Messenger for Kids

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes. More than 90 percent of children 6 to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones, and 66 percent of that same age group have either their own tablet or smartphone, according to numbers provided by Dubit, a consulting agency. It's completely independent of the flagship Facebook and Messenger apps, and is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. Parents shouldn't, for example, see an ad for a toy on Facebook because their child talked about it on Messenger Kids.

Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service, called it a "useful tool" but also noted, "The risk of exposure to things they were not developmentally prepared for is huge".

He said Facebook is trying to deal with the situation pragmatically by steering young Facebook users to a service designed for them.

Also, unlike the regular version of Facebook, children under 13 on the app won't have Facebook accounts associated with their app. Facebook's current policy doesn't let individuals under 13 create accounts.

Major tech firms have recently released more products that allow children to engage within the limits of the privacy law - and that reach more of the country's approximately 50 million children under the age of 13 in the process.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

Related news: