Facebook wants kids under 13 to try new Messenger app

Facebook wants kids under 13 to try new Messenger app

Today, in the U.S., we're rolling out a preview of Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can't be together in person. "Parents control kids accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel in their main Facebook app", Facebook said in a post.

Kids will be able to send photos, videos or other messages to relatives or other contacts accessible through the primary Messenger app, and vice versa.

The social media giant also say the app is being developed in order for parents to monitor their kids online activity more closely as more and more children have been found to be using the official Facebook website in recent years. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. The new app is available for preview in the US App Store for now, with plans to expand onto the Google Play and the Amazon App stores in the coming months.

Once it is installed on a young person's tablet or smartphone it can be controlled using an adult Facebook account, who must pre-approve who they can talk to.

Facebook added special proactive detection safety filters to prevent children from sharing sexual content, nudity or violence.

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

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"Probably like most parents, I recoiled I horror at this announcement but on reading more, I'm sold", said Anne-Marie O'Leary, editor in chief at Netmums.

Hooked on FacebookIs Messenger Kids is a way for the Facebook to rope in the young ones?

"The risk of exposure to things [children] were not developmentally prepared for is huge", said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who worked with Facebook to develop the app, reports The Guardian.

"It allows kids to do what they like to do best. We know giving access to the online world is a parental choice and we wanted to design something that gives parents the peace of mind they want when it comes to that decision, and delivers a really fun experience for kids to connect with friends and family". Sean Parker, one of Facebook's early investors and its first president, recently opined on the negative impact of the service he helped create. First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child's iPad, iPod touch or iPhone from the App Store.

He said: 'Not sure this is the right direction at all.

Teen user growth on Facebook's flagship product has stagnated in the past few years as Gen Z'ers increasingly gravitate towards more intimate-feeling messaging platforms (re: Snapchat), rather than public-facing social media.

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