Facebook launches parent-controlled Messenger app for kids

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Facebook notes that once users turn 13, they won't be automatically be migrated to the full-scale messenger, nor will a Facebook account automatically be created for them. For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts. More than 90 percent of children 6 to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones, and 66 percent of that same age group have either their own tablet or smartphone, according to numbers provided by Dubit, a consulting agency.

Lavallee, who is content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, called Messenger Kids a "useful tool" that "makes parents the gatekeepers".

There will be no ads on the app, as it is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages.

Messenger Kids comes with a slew of controls for parents.

Facebook announced on Monday that it will introduce a new kid-friendly version of its messaging app. Android users will also get a version of the Messenger Kids at some point in the future.

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Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the us and will be targeting 6 to 13-year-olds with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app. Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger.

She said that research has shown that social media can be a detriment to children's brain, emotional and physical development.

Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child's iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store. Despite US federal law prohibiting companies from collecting personal information on those under 13 years old without parental consent, millions are already on Facebook, with or without their parents' permission, says Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute.

Is Messenger Kids simply a way for Facebook to rope in the young ones? "We appreciate that for now, the product is ad-free and appears created to put parents in control". The social network also is looking at building controls around how much time a child can spend on the app. 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. "It's actually really great for kids to see how grownups communicate effectively online and you can have the chance to model it for them". As you can probably guess from the name alone, this is a new version of Messenger that has plenty of parental restrictions in place, making it a safe way for children to stay in touch with family members and friends. The app has kids friendly masks, frames, stickers and GIFs for interactive conversations.

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