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Introducing Messenger Kids, a New App For Families to Connect | Facebook Newsroom
07 December 2017, 10:51 | Randall Craig
AM ET Sens. Grill Facebook's Zuckerberg on New Kids App Say they have concerns about where sensitive info could wind
"We remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what objective it could be used", they wrote. To add people to your child's approved contact list, you can access the Messenger Kids parental controls panel within your main Facebook app by clicking on "More" at the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and then by clicking on "Messenger Kids" in the explore section. So when we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking.
Facebook made the controversial decision back in 2014 to remove private messaging from the main app, moving it instead into Facebook Messenger. With their parents' permission, however, they can chat with approved Messenger and Messenger Kids users from a parent's account. When Facebook asked parents about launching a kids' app, many told the company that they did not want a full social network, but had more interest in a communications tool, the company said. He says the idea of giving parents control over Messenger Kids is good. But with technology moving deeper into the home and many firms looking for more growth, children have become a more attractive market.
Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13, enforced by the American Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, however tech-savvy pre-teens have already shown this to be easily bypassed.
While children do use messaging and social media apps designed for teenagers and adults, those services aren't built for them, said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service.
Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). Messenger Kids, meanwhile, is a result of seeing what kids like, which is images, emoji and the like.
"They use family-shared devices - and many, as young as six or seven years old, even have their own".
The senators say that they expect Facebook to respond to their questions by January 4.
Facebook's focus on younger children raised some alarm bells, however. So if a child wants to be able to chat with one of their classmates, their parent must first friend that kid's parent, and then will see the option to approve that adult's child as a contact for their own kid. But, she also warned, many products that start as noncommercial can change over time.
The Center for Digital Democracy praised Facebook for creating a "walled garden" approach to the new messenger service.
The app launches on Apple's App Store first.
The company also said it would not automatically move users to the regular Messenger app or Facebook service after they turn 13. It now seems the company may have similar plans for Instagram.
Facebook said the point of Messenger Kids was to provide a more controlled environment for the types of activities that were occurring across smartphones and tablets among family members.
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