Facebook launches new kids app

Tuesday, 05 Dec, 2017

While Facebook said Messenger Kids won't display ads, some consumer advocacy groups still have privacy concerns.

A new report from TechCrunch says the free app is aimed at kids under 13, who can't yet have their own accounts under Facebook's rules, though they often do.

The app, called Messenger Kids, allows children to send messages and photos and video chat with specific contacts that have been approved by their parents.

"[Messenger Kids] doesn't overcome the issues of screen time and screen use and all the other issues that go with technology and kids", Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told The Post. While the app operates as its own version of Messenger, kid's accounts are actually nested under their parent's accounts.

"Why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?" Although Facebook remains the largest social network - and Messenger has grown into one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world - signing up new users now presents a new challenge, given how mature and wide-reaching they already are.

Kids will also have access to GIFs, stickers and other content Facebook said has been vetted to ensure it's appropriate for children.

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. The reasoning behind this, says Facebook, is to avoid forcing parents and other relatives to download an extra app. "A website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent form a parent and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online". It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices.

"Kids as young as 10 years old easily get 300 text messages a day from social media interactions; this is too stressful".

According to Head of Messenger David Marcus, offering Messenger Kids is another way to give parents more control over what their children read, see and hear on smartphones and tablets, which have become commonplace inside and outside the home. So what, exactly, is Facebook's motive for opening things to younger children?

Sensing it could face criticism for developing a product that would help convert kids to regular Facebook users after they turn thirteen, Facebook cleverly prepared a defense in advance, notes The Verge.

Facebook normally requires users to be at least 13 years old.

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.

But kids can't sign up on their own.