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Facebook Launches Messenger for Kids

07 December 2017, 02:32 | Hattie Nash

Facebook have launched a Messenger app just for kids

Screen Shot

But, on Monday, Facebook introduced an app, called Messenger Kids, targeted at that age group and asks parents to give their approval so children can message, add filters and doodle on photos they send to one another.

Messenger Kids isn't Facebook's first attempt to attract a young audience.

"Overall, the environment seems very sterile and secure", says cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs in a blog post on Tuesday, December 5.

While Facebook points out that it created the app with input from parents and the company stresses that it's safe, experts aren't totally convinced.

Of course, social networks are also a great way to check if other people are experiencing the same problem as you.

Facebook also said it would block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content, and have a dedicated moderation team to respond to flagged content.

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Facebook Messenger for Kids
It also includes a GIFs section for choosing images to send to friends, but content in the section is regulated by Facebook. The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the USA for the timebeing.

"Particularly for parents who have already tried to get their under 13s onto Facebook so they can communicate with grandma, this is a godsend", said Stephen Balkam, the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute.

The app itself is controlled through a parent's Facebook account.

How do you set up Facebook Messenger Kids?

"But why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?" said Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, in a statement. One user gave the product one star and commented: "Way too easy for children to sign up without parents' knowledge".

Marketing mattersFacebook said Messenger Kids will not display any advertisements or it will not collect data for marketing, though it will collect some data so that the app can necessary to run the service.

She's anxious that introducing a Facebook product to young kids is only going to make them want to use the main Facebook product, as well as other apps like this. Children can send photos, videos or text messages to parent-approved friends and adult relatives. "In order for parents to effectively do that, they need to understand the app and let their kids know that they have the ability to check in and see what they're doing", she says. The service will not allow for the children to add their own friends or even deleting messages - only parents can do that. "We appreciate that for now, the product is ad-free and appears created to put parents in control".

It's an early version of the app with limited availability.

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