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Facebook Launches 'Messenger Kids' For Under-13 Users

05 December 2017

"Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families", wrote Loren Cheng, Facebook's product management director in a blog post. For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts.

Facebook is launching a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals.

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes. The app is created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). The company stated that they have consulted hundreds of parent and children advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, before coming up with Messenger Kids.

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations
Facebook launches Messenger Kids app for under-13s

Messenger Kids will be downloaded onto a child's device but will be controlled by the parent.

When kids chat with contacts that use the regular version of Facebook Messenger, like parents or relatives, their exchanges will appear as a normal message thread in the Messenger app for the recipient.

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

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The app, called Messenger Kids, allows children to send messages and photos and video chat with specific contacts that have been approved by their parents. The app was 18 months in development, Svensson said.

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

Facebook says it has also screened all the stickers and other graphics to ensure they are age-appropriate, and there are no ads. These controls are accessible through the main Facebook app. But the technology giant today announced a new version of the service that could bump its active user base up considerably. What data are they collecting and exactly how are they using it?

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It's "The Social Network" meets "Sesame Street".

Sensing it could face criticism for developing a product that would help convert kids to regular Facebook users after they turn thirteen, Facebook cleverly prepared a defense in advance, notes The Verge. That means when a child reports a conversation that they find offensive or block an individual user in the app (or vice versa), the parent is notified on Facebook. Messenger Kids presents another way to tap into a subset of the younger demographic.

The application is available for preview in the United States and will roll out to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch initially.

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"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. It wants kids on board as early as possible, and it knows that parents are eager to keep in touch with their kids through a safe environment that they can control.

Facebook Launches 'Messenger Kids' For Under-13 Users