Facebook Now Targeting Kids With New Messaging App


It's for ages younger than 13. So Facebook's pitch to parents is pretty much: use Messenger Kids, because at the very least you can control what your child does with our app.

"Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love". Instead, parents need to log into their own Facebook accounts after downloading the mobile app to configure their kids' messaging experience. But parents dictate who their kids can and can't talk to. "After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the USA, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want", Cheng said.

Most kids tend to use tablets or iPod Touches that don't have phone numbers, so normal texting and video chats are a no-go (unless it's with mommy's phone, which isn't always great for mommy). There is no word about expanding the availability of the app to other countries at the moment.

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Messenger Kids accounts are not the same as regular Facebook accounts, and do not turn into regular accounts once the child turns 13. The aim is to provide a safe way for children to video chat and message with family and friends, with parents having access to strict parental controls to ensure their kids are not being exposed to inappropriate content.

Facebook is launching a messaging app for children to chat with their parents and with friends approved by their parents. Facebook says there's no ads in the app, it's completely free to use, there's no in-app purchases, and your child's information isn't used for other purposes other than to identify profiles under your Facebook account. Facebook won't migrate kids over to its "adult" apps when children reach that age, but it's easy to see that happening on its own.

The company claims that it spent the past six months talking with hundreds of parents in focus groups to understand the kinds of concerns and needs they have when it comes to letting their young children communicate online. When detected (or if, given Facebook's shoddy moderating history), such content will be scrubbed from the app. Then, you'll just need to create an account for your child by providing their name. Amazon has also added kid-focused "skills" to its Echo smart speakers, which require a parent's permission to activate. That's because kids can't create a Messenger Kids account - or add any new contacts - without parental approval.

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Facebook's latest app is exclusively for kids.

There's a simple reason Facebook is starting to focus on children: Kids are already using technology anyway.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. So what, exactly, is Facebook's motive for opening things to younger children?

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"But in all of our research, there was one theme that was consistent: parents want to know they're in control".