Facebook launches Messenger Kids app - but parents vet chat contacts

Facebook launches Messenger Kids app - but parents vet chat contacts

The rules for traditional Facebook services aren't changing, kids still have to be 13 years old to get their own accounts. For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts.

It's worth noting here that Facebook itself remains closed to those under 13 years of age.

According to Head of Messenger David Marcus, offering Messenger Kids is another way to give parents more control over what their children read, see and hear on smartphones and tablets, which have become commonplace inside and outside the home. Facebook noted that proper privacy and security measures have been put in place to assure parents have full transparency and control over their kid's online activities. If Peggy is already on Messenger Kids, you'll see her name under her parent's name and you can tap it to add her as a friend to your child.

Setting up a Messenger Kids account for a child requires their parent to sign in at first with their Facebook accounts.

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Facebook is about to rollout a version of Messenger aimed specifically at kids, known as Messenger Kids.

Facebook said there will be plenty of safeguards built into Messenger Kids.

Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the USA and will be targeting 6 to 13-year-olds with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app. Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger. "That they know that the conversations are appropriate", she said.

Children can start one-on-one or group video or text chats with approved contacts, sending videos, photos, gifs and other creative elements from a library of screened drawing tools, frames, gifs, masks and stickers. But the technology giant today announced a new version of the service that could bump its active user base up considerably. And the only way they can do that is through Facebook.

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Like any business, Facebook's goals shouldn't be viewed as entirely altruistic, even if Messenger Kids is free to download and use. Messenger Kids presents another way to tap into a subset of the younger demographic. The social network also is looking at building controls around how much time a child can spend on the app.

The application is available for preview in the United States and will roll out to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch initially. But it's also a potentially smart move for Facebook, one that could get kids comfortable with the platform by the time they're old enough for a regular account.

Children who feel they are being bullied can report content or contacts.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. But she said that while Facebook made the app "with the best of intentions", it's not yet known how people will actually use it.

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