Tuesday 26 May, 2020

Facebook debuts Messenger app for kids

Facebook today debuted its Messenger app for kids. 

Called Messenger Kids, the app aims to provide young children with an outlet to connect with relatives but with parents' concern about safety in mind. 

Here are some things you should know about the app:

The app allows parents have to approve a child’s contacts, and request friends on behalf of their kids from their own Facebook account.

Messages never disappear and can’t be deleted, so parents can always find them on their kids’ devices.

Children also get to block any person they don’t want to talk to, and they can report inappropriate messages. There are special protections to block abusive content from appearing in the app.

Anticipating concerns about privacy, Facebook says that the app will collect minimal data from its users, aside from identifying which contacts the user interacts with most frequently.

Messenger Kids is separate from Facebook, so a child does not an account on the main platform.

Features include including specially chosen GIFs, stickers, masks, and frames, as well as drawing tools. 

Antigone Davis, Facebook's Public Policy Director, Global Head of Safety explained in a note that the decision behind the Messenger Kids app is the fact that children are using technology at a younger age but not those that are age appropriate.

"Research shows that kids are using apps that are intended for teens and adults. We collaborated with National PTA on a study with more than 1,200 American parents of children under the age of 13, and three of every five parents surveyed said their kids under 13 use messaging apps, social media or both, while 81 percent reported their children started using social media between the ages of eight and 13," said Davis. 

Davis said while children expressed a desire to use social media to have fun, all of their research shows one consistent theme: parents want to know they’re in control.

"They want a level of control over their kids’ digital world that is similar to the level they have in the real world. Just as they want to know whose house their child will be visiting for a playdate, they want to know who their child is connecting with online. And just as they want to say “lights out” at night, they also want to be able to say “phones off.”"

Messenger Kids is rolling out in the US initially.

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