Facebook Launches Messenger Kids With Strict Parental Controls For Children Under 13

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Facebook has revealed that it has worked with many parents, advisors and child safety professionals to develop the application. It announced Monday morning that it would be launching a new messaging app for children. 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. They can communicate with Messenger Kids users through their existing Messenger app. The child does not have a Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13; instead the app operates as an extension of the parent's account. Kids will not be searchable within the app for privacy reasons.

Facebook Messenger for Kids has just been released for children under 13, bringing a more kid-oriented experience to messaging on Facebook.

Messenger Kids is primarily created to offer video and text chat along with the types of playful masks and filters, originally popularized by Snapchat, that are now prevalent across Facebook's many messaging products.

Messenger Kids is available now in the USA in preview form.

A Facebook spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo, "We've built automated systems that can detect things like nudity, violence, and child exploitative imagery to help limit that content from being shared on Messenger Kids".

Explaining some of the safety features that are in place, Facebook says: "Messenger Kids gives parents more control".

"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the USA, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want", said Loren Cheng, Facebook's Product Management Director. Facebook only requires a first and last name for a Messenger Kids account, and any other data collected from the account is kept separately from Facebook's other user data, the company claims. Parents can download the app to their child's iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store. Davis said that Facebook spoke with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the app is compliant with COPPA. "Is technology good for kids, or is it having adverse effects on their social skills and health?" and "do we know the long-term effects of screen time?" With so many privacy concerns and children's online safety issues a paramount discussion, will parents be keen on allowing kids under 13 this sort of access to online social media? It was a limited version of its main app and didn't let users send or receive photos or add friends.

Of course, getting preteens onto Messenger has one other major benefit: It offers Facebook a chance to get in front of the youngest generation of internet users before potential competitors.

Children can block and report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, which will immediately notify parents.

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