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

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations

Facebook's new chat app for kids makes parents approve conversations

Messenger Kids users can do numerous same things users of the regular Messenger app can do - send text-based messages, video chat, tack on virtual stickers and face masks - but with stricter rules and parental controls in place.

"Many of us at Facebook are parents, and naturally we're thinking about technology's role in the lives of children and families", Antigone Davis, Facebook's Public Policy Director and Global Head of Safety, wrote in an article in Facebook's Newsroom addressing the new Messenger app. Users can talk or text with family and close friends allowing parents to control the app through their Facebook account. Once this is done, the kids are ready to use the app. The narrowed app was designed after consultation with hundreds of parents and several children's advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Facebook said. They also have control over their kid's online activities. This, combined with the fact that parents have to approve each of their children's contacts, should prevent phony accounts from appearing on the platform, a practice that's become a huge problem for Facebook. That's a departure from Facebook's approach in the past, as when it required users to download the separate Messenger app in 2014 in order to send direct messages on Facebook. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages. She first heard of Facebook's interest in children 5 or 6 years ago and urged it not to create a full social network for children. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids.

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Facebook said it will collect some data, including a child's name, the content of their messages and data about how the app is being used - even if it is not as extensive as the information it asks from adults. "A website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent form a parent and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online". Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year. Robinson said she might give Messenger Kids a try. Parents who set up the service won't be creating a Facebook account for their kids. It's a restrictive system, but one that highlights how tricky it is to give children access to social media, and particularly an app that's operated by one of the world's largest (and most controversial) social media firms. Facebook also said it will not automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company may provide them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.

But kids can't sign up on their own.

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