Facebook targets 6- to 12-year-old demographic with new Messenger app

Ken Copeland
Декабря 5, 2017

All in all, it sounds like this will be a good app to use if you want to allow your children to communicate with friends and family from their smart device without exposing them to the whole of Facebook.

Messenger Kids is a standalone app installed on the child's tablet or smartphone, but controlled from a parent's Facebook account. The app, Messenger Kids, is a messaging service that gives parents authority over who their kids can chat with.

Facebook has started rolling out the new app in the USA, allowing kids who are otherwise restricted by age to join the social networking site.

"One of the things we found over and over again is that kids look at communications as play, and so we wanted to make this as playful as possible", said Loren Cheng, Facebook's director of product management.

Your child will only be able to chat with friends and family members you approve of, via text or video, as well as send photos, choosing from a rich library of age-appropriate and "specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools" that let them "decorate content and express their personalities".

Facebook says it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or to Facebook when they get old enough.

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Perhaps most importantly, Facebook is launching Messenger Kids free of ads.

Facebook said it consulted with 1200 parents plus online security and child development specialists, including the National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop. The company, in its post, said the kids can have access to social media with parental control. "I think if parents monitor something and they think it's okay for their kid, then it's okay for the parent".

She said, "For a child who is just now starting out in social media to have certain restrictions and parental guidance, that is important".

This is the first time Facebook has developed an app specifically for kids. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year. That's a departure from Facebook's approach in the past, as when it required users to download the separate Messenger app in 2014 in order to send direct messages on Facebook. According to one USA Today report, "It's a grown-up problem for Facebook which needs young users to develop the habit of checking Facebook so it can show them ads well into adulthood".

It's worth noting here that Facebook itself remains closed to those under 13 years of age. 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.

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