Facebook just launched a messaging app for 6-year-olds

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Messenger Kids accounts are not the same as regular Facebook accounts, and do not turn into regular accounts once the child turns 13. With the app, parents can have much more control over who their kids talk to and allow them to communicate with contacts who are on Facebook without actually signing up for the service. A child can't even create an account on his or her own - a parent must do it for them.

It will be interesting to see parents reaction to this new app for kids under 13.

"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the U.S., 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", Cheng wrote. It's heavy on visuals and includes video chat and group video chat options. The best part? All of these features are only available for kids who have a designated set of contacts by their parents.

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Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child's iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store. You have a lot of say over who your kids connect with thanks to Messenger Kids so you won't have to worry about online predators or anything similar. It enables parents to control the contact list and does not allow children to connect with anyone their parent does not approve. Despite US federal law prohibiting companies from collecting personal information on those under 13 years old without parental consent, millions are already on Facebook, with or without their parents' permission, says Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute.

As of today, Messenger Kids is only launching on the iOS App Store. That's a departure from Facebook's approach in the past, as when it required users to download the separate Messenger app in 2014 in order to send direct messages on Facebook.

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. Facebook also said that it has filtering software and human moderators scouring the platform for inappropriate content that they will then remove.

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It is now only available on iOS in the USA, but will be rolled out to Google Play Store and Amazon App Store in the next few months. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages.

"American parents are really protective of their young kids' privacy and social interactions", said Jenny Radesky, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of MI, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. We'll let you know when that Android version eventually launches, but for now, head down to the comments section and give us your take on Messenger Kids. It's for ages younger than 13. The control panel for Messenger Kids is located in the main Facebook app. Facebook won't migrate kids over to its "adult" apps when children reach that age, but it's easy to see that happening on its own.

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