Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Joan Schultz

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations (FB)

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations (FB)

Facebook announced on Monday it was trialling Messenger Kids in the United States, a standalone app aimed at children under 13 to chat with friends and family, controlled from a parent's main Facebook account.

Messenger Kids is a simplified version of Facebook's existing messaging app which needs parents to approve any contacts added by their children. Children can send photos, videos or text messages to parent-approved friends and adult relatives. Once the parent has authenticated it with their own account, they set up a mini-profile with their kid's name and photo.

Children aren't searchable on Facebook which means children will have to first find their friend's parents on Facebook to get permission.

Jeremy Hunt has hit out at Facebook after the social media giant announced it was launching a new app aimed at young children.

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The app is now available for the iOS, and Facebook is planning to add Android and Amazon versions over the coming weeks.

Parents are often anxious about what their kids do on social media and whom they are talking to, especially Facebook. It will be linked to an adults' Facebook account.

Most apps say that kids have to be at least 13, but there's nothing to stop younger children from signing up. Instead, parents have to ask to look at their kids' screen, which Chung says is a more common behavior pattern. The app features GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools that are "kid-appropriate and specially chosen".

The app also taps into concerns parents have about their children being exposed to bullying and inappropriate content on the internet. To protect minors, Facebook doesn't allow kids under 13 to sign up for a Facebook account.

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Facebook said in an official statement: "There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads".

"In a world where far-flung families are better connected than ever before - when Grandma in Tokyo can read a bedtime story to her grandkids in London via Facetime - a messaging app specifically designed for children can only be a good thing". Children can start one-on-one contacts with parent-approved contacts.

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

"Facebook has had an under 13 problem for many, many years", said Stephen Balkam, founder of the Family Online Safety Institute.

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That's why it was smart that Facebook tasked Cheng with leading the project.

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