After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the United States, 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.
Facebook's approach may encourage companies to create safer, more limited and legally compliant services for kids, said Larry Magid, chief executive of the nonprofit ConnectSafely.org, one of many organizations Facebook briefed on the product ahead of its launch.
Facebook said it developed the app after speaking with thousands of parents, major parental groups and child development experts.
The creation of Messenger Kids is not an isolated initiative, rather it comes as part of a conscious push from the social media megaforce to increase its presence amongst youths. It offers parents complete control over what their children are doing over the Web.
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Facebook said that Messenger Kids will have no ads.
Messenger Kids is also an excellent Messenger feature for children that would prevent abuse and ensure a great environment that they can enjoy. Instead, parents download the Messenger Kids app to a child's iPhone or iPad (Android coming soon).
A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities.
"We believe that it's possible to give kids a fun experience that provides more peace of mind for parents, too". However, the parent's approval is needed before their names can actually appear on the authorized contact list.
Kids will not get a separate Facebook or Messenger account as this will just be an extension of their parent's account.
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"They use family-shared devices - and many, as young as six or seven years old, even have their own". So if a child wants to be able to chat with one of their classmates, their parent must first friend that kid's parent, and then will see the option to approve that adult's child as a contact for their own kid. This is why Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit younger kids from joining.
In June, The Information reported Facebook was working on an app for teens called Talk, though that's a bit different than this pre-teen Messenger Kids app. "We appreciate that for now, the product is ad-free and appears created to put parents in control".
Facebook's move is the latest from a tech behemoth that show how companies are grappling with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
This preview of Messenger Kids is only available in the USA at this time on the Apple App Store, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months. But with technology moving deeper into the home and many firms looking for more growth, children have become a more attractive market. No endorsement is implied.
National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service.
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