IT&Software

Facebook launches messaging app for children as young as 6

Facebook launches messaging app for children as young as 6

Facebook mentioned in its blog post that the app is created to enable kids to communicate with their friends and family through video chats and text messages as well as share photos and videos.

In an announcement yesterday, Facebook revealed its latest app for iPhone and iPad: Messenger Kids. He said Facebook is trying to deal with the situation pragmatically by steering young Facebook users to a service designed for them. The rules for traditional Facebook services will not change.

The child would not be given their own Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13.

The app may be built for kids to use, but parents are the ones in the driver's seat.

Common Sense Media, a U.S. non-profit "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families", has looked extensively at the proliferation of social media use among young children. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve. We've also had thought-provoking conversations around topics of responsible online communication, parental controls and much more with organizations like National PTA and Blue Star Families, where we heard firsthand how parents and caregivers approach raising children in today's digitally connected world. One user gave the product one star and commented: "Way too easy for children to sign up without parents' knowledge".

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Facebook in its response wrote: "On Thursday November 30 just after midnight Pacific time we bacame aware that a few people were having issues with their Messenger accounts".

Federal law prohibits Internet companies from collecting personal information on kids who are below 13 without their parents' permission; as well the feature imposes restrictions on advertising to them.

It has not responded directly to Mr Hunt's tweet, but in a blog post, Facebook's Loren Cheng said the company had spoken to thousands of parents and dozens of experts in child development and online safety. The way this app works is parents first download it on their kid's devices and authenticate the device using their Facebook credentials. Still, it doesn't have the best track record on unintended consequences, and if it screws this up, the damage and backlash will be massive. If a child has already become familiar with the Facebook infrastructure and has become hooked, it does seem rather likely that they'll continue into their teen years and beyond.

"When I was in my mid-twenties, you never think you're going to be gone, ever", Marcus admits.

"Stay away from my children", British health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the social network.