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Introducing Messenger Kids, a New App For Families to Connect | Facebook Newsroom

Introducing Messenger Kids, a New App For Families to Connect | Facebook Newsroom

Called Messenger Kids, the app lets children safely message and video chat with their friends and family, and contains a kid-appropriate library of GIFs, stickers, and messages. Parents control kids accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel in their main Facebook app.

Which is why Facebook is putting much time and money into keeping the app under the supervision of adults, and severely limiting what kids will have access to when they use it. Parents will sign off on everything, including downloading the app and signing up.

Parents must then sign off on all their child's contacts, meaning that in theory they can not speak to anyone through the app without parental permission.

The free app is aimed at kids under 13, who can't yet have their own accounts under Facebook's rules, though they often do. Though this new app for now is only available in the US, Facebook says, but has upcoming plans to extend it in the field of iOS and Google Play Store within next few months. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve. "Sometimes after 5 or 10 minutes it's really hard to have a sustained conversation with a 7-year-old", but kids can joke around with Grampa using the selfie filters when they run out of run-on stories to tell them.

He was joined in his criticism by leading children's society Barnardo's, which said the firm is targeting kids too young to use social media responsibly.

"Probably like most parents, I recoiled I horror at this announcement but on reading more, I'm sold", said Anne-Marie O'Leary, editor in chief at Netmums.

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Facebook announced a new messaging service yesterday for children as young as six.

"The risk of exposure to things [children] were not developmentally prepared for is huge", said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who worked with Facebook to develop the app, reports The Guardian. Children can start one-on-one contacts with parent-approved contacts. Instead, it's built specifically for kids, ages 6 to 13, with Facebook pitching the app as a way to message friends and family walled off from predators and inappropriate content.

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

James Steyer, the CEO of the kids-focused on the non-profit group Common Sense, stated that while he liked the idea of a messaging app which needs the parental sign-ups, many questions remain.

"Not sure this is the right direction at all", he tweeted.

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