Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

Facebook also said that it will block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content, and have a dedicated moderation team to respond to flagged content. It's launching Monday in the USA, initially on Apple devices.

Loren Cheng, a product management director at Facebook, said: "Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families".

Messenger Kids can be used by children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, and it does not require the child to have a Facebook account - children under 13 are not legally permitted to have an account.

To use the app, parents must download it from the App Store and then authenticate it with their Facebook user name and password.

Messenger Kids, which previews in the U.S. today (4 December), is a standalone app that exists on kids' devices but can be remotely monitored by a parent's Facebook account.

Messenger Kids is primarily created to offer video and text chat along with the types of playful masks and filters, originally popularized by Snapchat, that are now prevalent across Facebook's many messaging products.

The preview of Messenger Kids is launching in the United States first.

Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service, believes that this app is a "useful tool" that it "makes parents the gatekeepers". 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. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve. 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. In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.

The Center for Digital Democracy likes what is sees, at least initially, in the way Facebook has set up its new messaging ap for younger kids.

There's a simple reason Facebook is starting to focus on children: Kids are already using technology anyway.

It is now only available on iOS in the United States, but will be rolled out to Google Play Store and Amazon App Store in the next few months.

Parents are in charge of setting up an account for their kids in the new messaging app.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. Most of Messenger's adult capabilities, such as payments and digital assistance, are unavailable in Messenger Kids. The control panel for Messenger Kids is located in the main Facebook app. If the parent does it, the child can not re-add them.

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