Facebook launches new kids app

05 December, 2017, 02:42 | Author: Grady Montgomery
  • Facebook built a new version of Messenger for younger users.                  Facebook

And the company won't mine data from it. Mashable's Kerry Flynn: (SOUNDBITE) KERRY FLYNN, BUSINESS REPORTER, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Essentially, the idea of it is, if you get a kid who is age 11, 12, or younger, really used to using a Facebook app, then it's an easy transition for them to join Facebook in the future". For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts. The new app gives it a chance to win brand loyalty from younger children at a time when it faces competition for teenagers from other social media platforms such as Snapchat.

Lavallee, who is content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, called Messenger Kids a "useful tool" that "makes parents the gatekeepers". Facebook said it was fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and that it had worked with online safety experts including the National PTA and Blue Star Families.

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. And it only works if the parents of the kids who want to talk via Messenger Kids are friends on Facebook themselves.

The app became available to preview download starting Monday.

"Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families", Loren Cheng, product management director at Facebook, said in a blog post.




"The risk of exposure to things they were not developmentally prepared for is huge", she said.

Bernstein says Facebook's development of Messenger Kids is a way of reaching today's young internet-infatuated children so they can connect with friends and family safely with parental oversight and collaboration. Kids can only message other Facebook users approved by the adult. These controls are accessible through the main Facebook app. And the only way they can do that is through Facebook.

With more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook can't exactly guarantee that it's going to be a safe place for kids. She first heard of Facebook's interest in children 5 or 6 years ago and urged it not to create a full social network for children.

Messenger Kids, meanwhile, "is a result of seeing what kids like", which is images, emoji and the like.

At this time, Messenger Kids will be available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone devices for those in the United States, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months. Facebook also said it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company might give them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.

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