Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

How to Sign Your Child Up for Facebook's New 'Messenger Kids'

Facebook Messenger Kids Image Source Facebook
Sandra Phillips | 10 December, 2017, 02:30

So on Monday, Facebook launched its first app tailored for young users.

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes.

Facebook is releasing a new version of Messenger, its standalone messaging app, specifically for users under the age of 13 - those who are too young to use Facebook due to the site's age restrictions. Facebook says it's been pouring a lot of resources into it as well, to prevent any kind of abuse and ensure a great environment for children who want to chat with their family and friends using one of the most popular chat apps out there.

If a kid wants to chat with a friend from school, for example, her parent would need to be Facebook friends with a parent of the other child, and the two parents would need to agree to a connection request. Once confirmed to be safe, friends can do live video chat and send pictures and text to each other.

Of course, this would not be a modern messaging app without pieces of flair, such as playful masks, emojis, frames, stickers, drawing tools, and sound effects.

But what's really smart about the app is that'll soon convert droves of children to sign up for Facebook and experience all its features, including the full-fledged version of Messenger.

There are no ads in Messenger Kids, which Facebook says is created to be fully compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).

Facebook has promised the data will not be used in any way to power the "grown up" Facebook.

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Accounts have to be set up by parents, and kids can only talk to a pre-defined list of contacts. Or use what was discussed in Messenger Kids to target ads at teens as they graduate into over-13 Facebook.

Creating a Messenger Kids account is not the same as creating a Facebook account. It then has to be authenticated using their own Facebook username and password. It is this demographic causing them the most headaches right now.

With Messenger Kids, as noble as its intentions are, Facebook is simply planting a seed, preordering a brand new batch of Facebook users. Six-year-olds should be playing with worms, not getting FOMO.

Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert and content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, worked with Facebook to develop the app.

There is tentative support for what Facebook is doing. Ensuring that adults who use Facebook are safe from abuse or contact from unwanted strangers can be hard.

Common Sense Media, a USA non-profit "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families", has looked extensively at the proliferation of social media use among young children.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

"But without clear policies about data collection, what happens to the content children post, and plans for the future, it is impossible to fully trust the platform. We've also had thought-provoking conversations around topics of responsible online communication, parental controls, and much more with organizations like National PTA and Blue Star Families, where we heard first hand how parents and caregivers approach raising children in today's digitally connected world", Cheng added. Any harmful content that makes its way onto Messenger Kids will be a major issue for the firm.

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