Sci-tech

Facebook made a Messenger app that's just for kids

Facebook made a Messenger app that's just for kids

The app, which does not require a phone number for making an account, rules out the possibility of anyone outside the contact list from connecting with the kid. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year. And the company won't mine data from it. Mashable's Kerry Flynn: (SOUNDBITE) KERRY FLYNN, BUSINESS REPORTER, MASHABLE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Essentially, the idea of it is, if you get a kid who is age 11, 12, or younger, really used to using a Facebook app, then it's an easy transition for them to join Facebook in the future".

The social network giant said children between the ages of 6 and 11 are most likely to gravitate toward the standalone app, raising concerns about its safety in the hands of such youngsters.

The stand-alone app on children's devices can be controlled by a parent's Facebook account that will allow kids to use video chat and send photos, videos or text messages to friends approved by their parents.

Facebook said that the app was designed in conjunction with parents and safety organizations and is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). 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. Kids can't delete messages either, so theoretically if a child is using inappropriate language, they wouldn't be able to erase what they've said.

Messenger Kids is full of engaging and interactive features for kids to connect with the people they love. Parental permission is required to sign up for the app, she said.

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If your kids are going to message friends and family, wouldn't you rather have them do it safely and securely?

Facebook Inc on Monday (local time) rolled out Messenger Kids, an app that lets the world's biggest social media company expand into a so-far untapped market of kids under 13 while also giving parents complete control over what their children see.

The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the U.S. for the timebeing. 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. The child does not have a Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13; instead the app operates as an extension of the parent's account. The social network also is looking at building controls around how much time a child can spend on the app.

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. With Messenger Kids, she said, Facebook has thought through what's appropriate for kids.

But kids can't sign up on their own.


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