Facebook's Messenger Kids lets under-13s chat with parent-approved contacts

It's the world's happiest phone! Because it's running Facebook Messenger for Kids

It's the world's happiest phone! Because it's running Facebook Messenger for Kids

Once installed on a smartphone, the inbox in Instagram disappears and can then only be accessed from the Direct app.

The signup process needs nothing more than the name of the child.

Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love.

Public Policy Director and Global Head of Safety at Facebook, Antigone Davis, thinks Facebook can help parents guide their children through the online world.

Children and parents can block any contacts at any time. "Video calls become so much more playful with AR", says Marcus. Messenger Kids is interoperable with the main Messenger app, so adults don't actually have to download the Kids app. But with technology moving deeper into the home and many firms looking for more growth, children have become a more attractive market. Kids can block and unblock their parent-approved contacts.

Facebook's age restriction meant that it was never a place for kids.

Parental control doesn't end at the inception of the account; contacts can only be added if mum, dad or the relevant guardian say so. The FTC did not respond to a request for comment.

Facebook has released a new app for Apple devices as of late which has been intended for children. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts.

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Messenger features like location sharing and payments have been stripped out, while the Kids version of Giphy won't let you search for things like "sex". Facebook has also spent a lot of resources to make it a reality.

Reuters/Regis DuvignauFacebook's Messenger Kids allows for parent-controlled Messenger accounts for children. However, experts estimate millions of children under 13 may already be on Facebook after using false information to sign up.

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. It also reserves the right to share information with other firms as necessary - such as customer service providers or companies that can help it analyze how the app is being used. The exception is that if kids report a piece of objectionable content, their parents will be notified but still not shown the content in their own app.

Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent.

Facebook's focus on younger children raised some alarm bells, however. The app does not contain ads and is free of in-app purchases.

Messenger Kids gives parents more control. A recent Family Online Safety Institute study found that parents are more skeptical of the benefits of social media for their children then they are of smartphones or even wearable devices.

The Center for Digital Democracy praised Facebook for creating a "walled garden" approach to the new messenger service. But that's slightly changing now, as the company has made a decision to open the doors of its Messenger services to the kids.

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