Facebook's Newest App Is a Chat Service for Kids

Source Sky News

The stand-alone app on children's devices can be controlled by a parent's Facebook account that will allow kids to use video chat and send photos, videos or text messages to friends approved by their parents.

"Many of us at Facebook are parents, and naturally we're thinking about technology's role in the lives of children and families", Antigone Davis, Facebook's Public Policy Director and Global Head of Safety, wrote in an article in Facebook's Newsroom addressing the new Messenger app. Kids can't delete messages either, so theoretically if a child is using inappropriate language, they wouldn't be able to erase what they've said.

As for why Facebook is launching the app, the company said in email that "many of us at Facebook are parents ourselves, and it seems we weren't alone when we realized that our kids were getting online earlier and earlier", citing an external study from Dubit that found that 93% of six to 12-year-olds in the U.S. have access to tablets or smartphones.

Facebook won't monetize Messenger Kids app. Instead, parents need to log into their own Facebook accounts after downloading the mobile app to configure their kids' messaging experience. Facebook has developed a number of kid-friendly masks, stickers, and frames for kids to use during video calls, and they can even browse and send a curated collection of age-appropriate GIFs.

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.

Source Facebook
Source Facebook

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook is launching Messenger Kids free of ads. The control panel for Messenger Kids is located in the main Facebook app.

So it comes as little surprise then that Facebook says the majority of parents with young children are concerned about their kids potentially interacting with strangers online.

Now the app is only available for iOS, although Android support is expected. The app was 18 months in development, Svensson said.

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 will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices. According to one USA Today report, "It's a grown-up problem for Facebook which needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood".

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. She first heard of Facebook's interest in children 5 or 6 years ago and urged it not to create a full social network for children.

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