Facebook launches messenger for kids

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Messenger Kids offers an opportunity to introduce children to the wider Facebook ecosystem, fending off advances from rivals targeting children and teenagers, while locking parents and family into the social network to communicate with their children. Facebook said it was fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and that it had worked with online safety experts including the National PTA and Blue Star Families. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year.

While Facebook said Messenger Kids won't display ads, some consumer advocacy groups still have privacy concerns.

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child's information will not be used for advertising purposes.

The parent-controlled app allows Mom and Dad to decide who their child can have on their contact list.Once a contact like a child's best friend or an aunt or cousin is added, they can chat freely with that person using the service. Messenger Kids might be Facebook's way of reversing that trend by capturing users even earlier. Melanie Hempe, of Families Managing Media, a company dedicated to helping families instill good technology and social media habits, told the Daily News that kids as young as 6 should not be using social media. The social networking giant also made it clear that Messenger Kids accounts would not transition into a usual Facebook account when a child turns 13.

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".

Messenger Kids is full of engaging and interactive features for kids to connect with the people they love.

According to Head of Messenger David Marcus, offering Messenger Kids is another way to give parents more control over what their children read, see and hear on smartphones and tablets, which have become commonplace inside and outside the home. The app was 18 months in development, Svensson said.

The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the USA for the timebeing.

Messenger Kids will be downloaded onto a child's device but will be controlled by the parent.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. 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. "They want a level of control over their kids' digital world that is similar to the level they have in the real world", says Facebook's public policy director Antigone Davis. 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.

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