Science

How to Sign Your Child Up for Facebook's New 'Messenger Kids'

How to Sign Your Child Up for Facebook's New 'Messenger Kids'

"Why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?"

Facebook's move is the latest from a tech behemoth to show how companies are confronting the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It will be soon available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices.

Facebook said it had "thought-provoking conversations" around parent controls and responsible online communication with organizations such as National PTA and Blue Star Families in shaping the app.

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

Facebook is launching a messaging app for children to chat with their parents and with friends approved by their parents.

Right now, you can only do that in a feature-crippled Messenger Kids app available as a preview on U.S. iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches, but a Google Play and Amazon App Store expansion will definitely happen "in the coming months", and the general concept might be something worth exploring for the larger Facebook platform as well.

"[Messenger Kids] doesn't overcome the issues of screen time and screen use and all the other issues that go with technology and kids", Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, told The Post.

Parents can download and install the app on child's phone or tablet and create a profile with the name.

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Parents shouldn't, for example, see an ad for a toy on Facebook because their child talked about it on Messenger Kids. There are even kid-friendly GIFs, masks, and stickers they can use.

The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the United States for the timebeing. Parental permission is required to sign up for the app, she said.

"There's really a gap in the market for a messaging app for kids that also gives parents control", Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson said. A recent study from Common Sense Media found that parents are more skeptical of the benefits of social media for their children then they are of smartphones or even wearable devices.

"Kids as young as 10 years old easily get 300 text messages a day from social media interactions; this is too stressful". In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook.

Bernstein says Facebook's development of Messenger Kids is a way of reaching today's young internet-infatuated children so they can connect with friends and family safely with parental oversight and collaboration. Messenger Kids presents another way to tap into a subset of the younger demographic.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

Parents receive notifications about requests and activity through their own Facebook app, as the child does not receive or create their own Facebook account.


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