Facebook Messenger Kids goes heavy on parental controls for safe chatting

Children under 13 are banned from Facebook but this new app targets children aged 6 and up
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Parents are then notified through messenger and Facebook will remove content or kids who repeatedly violate the company's Community Standards.

But instead of forbidding your kids from using ubiquitous social networking services like Facebook or Facebook Messenger, you could try setting up a limited account for them.

Messenger Kids is a training wheels version of its full-fledged product - which will allow children to exchange messages and photos with friends and family as well as video chats.

Facebook announced they are launching a Messenger app for children as young as 6 years old. The control panel for Messenger Kids is located in the main Facebook app. Kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts.

The app is only available in the U.S. for iOS platform. Kids can't delete messages either, so theoretically if a child is using inappropriate language, they wouldn't be able to erase what they've said.

The new Facebook Messenger for kids app also has various features for children to enjoy.

"They're finally coming to grips with the fact that a service, which was created for college kids, is now being used by everyone", he said.

The social network giant said children between the ages of 6 and 11 are most likely to gravitate toward the standalone app, raising concerns about its safety in the hands of such youngsters. Millions of parents are part of Messenger community and they asked us for controllable solutions that let them message 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.

Messenger Kids may be completely separate from Facebook's other apps, but a lot of the parental management happens through Facebook. "A child does not have the cognitive maturity or impulse control to properly manage their time and use on digital platforms", Hempe said. 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".

All told, Messenger Kids could be a helpful tool for parents to stay in touch with their kids. The social network also is looking at building controls around how much time a child can spend on the app.

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