Facebook's Newest App Is a Chat Service for Kids

Facebook's Newest App Is a Chat Service for Kids

Facebook's Newest App Is a Chat Service for Kids

With more than one billion users, Facebook's Messenger app requires little introduction for most people reading this.

Parents of children that use the new Facebook Messenger for kids app have the ability to select who that child can keep in contact with. Melanie Hempe, of Families Managing Media, a company dedicated to helping families instill good technology and social media habits, told the Daily News that kids as young as 6 should not be using social media. While the app operates as its own version of Messenger, kid's accounts are actually nested under their parent's accounts.

Messages sent to adults or those over 13 appear in their normal Facebook Messenger app. Parents control contacts and other options through their Facebook app on their smartphone. Parents will have to sign their children up for the service and have to approve any person their children communicate with.

The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the United States for the timebeing.

Setting up the new Facebook Messenger for kids app is something that parents have to do.

Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you'll need to do is provide their name. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids. Parents shouldn't, for example, see an ad for a toy on Facebook because their child talked about it on Messenger Kids.

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The company spent months talking to parenting groups, child behavioral experts and safety organizations to develop the app, which should be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. The app is launching for iPhone immediately, but will eventually come to Android and Amazon Fire devices.

Parents are in full control of who their child interacts with on Messenger Kids. The child will not have his or her own Facebook account.

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

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 why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?" said Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, in a statement.

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.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

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