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Facebook launches kids’ version of Messenger

children on a computer

Facebook launches kids’ version of Messenger

Social media giant Facebook is set to launch a new Messenger app version, with the targeted audience being kids under the age of 13. Furthermore, this app will have stringent parental controls and will feature functions such as parental approval of contacts.

The app is free to use and is called ‘Messenger Kids’, and developers are hopeful that it will appeal to parents in search of an online chat function that is safe for their kids to use. The app will feature kid-friendly features as well as high levels of parental control, and screened content filters to stop children sharing and being exposed to inappropriate content that they may find elsewhere on the net.

The standalone app can be installed on the child’s smartphone, tablet or other device, but is controlled through the parent’s Facebook account. This is because it is not permitted for anyone under the age of 13 to set up an account on the world’s largest social network, meaning it needs to operate as an additional entity to the parent’s account, giving them the authority. Messenger Kids only gives parents the power to add friends or to delete messages.

As part of the app, there are no advertising features and there will be no option to make in-app purchases – a function that has caught out so many younger people in online games. Facebook has also stated that the child’s details will not be passed on to any third party company or used for advertising purposes. When the user comes of age, Facebook will automatically move the child up to the regular Facebook and Messenger platforms.

When using the app, children can start video chats in group and individual contexts with their approved contacts, send photos, GIFs, and other creative content, including masks and stickers – similar to those of Snapchat and Instagram. Facebook will also assist in the screening of content that youngsters are exposed to by automatically blocking children from sharing content of a violent or sexual nature. It plans to do this through a team of dedicated moderators that will respond to flagged content.

Any messages that are sent to people over the age of 13 will appear in the normal Messenger app. Messenger Kids is rolling out as a preview of iOS, with it coming out on Android at a later date. At the moment, it is only available in the US.

 

Alan Littler

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