Facebook's new messaging app deepens debate over kids' social media use


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. Kids will not get a separate Facebook or Messenger account as this will just be an extension of their parent's account. Kids can block and unblock their parent-approved contacts.

Facebook's new messaging app meant specifically for children ages 6 through 12 has raised privacy and security concerns among a couple Senate Democrats. This preview is available on the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. The service won't allow children to add their own friends or delete messages - only parents can do that. Colorful pictures, drawings and sounds can be added to messages. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.

Based on Facebook's registration, only those aged 13 and over are allowed to use the website.

Company Facebook introduced a new app called Messenger Kids. The company said it believes the new app will provide a "fun, safer solution" for children to communicate with family and friends. Parents have to use their Facebook email address and password to activate their child's account, but that does not log a parent into their child's device. If two children want to be friends with each other, each will have to get parental approval for contact. Messages do not disappear and can not be hidden by children.

Facebook says that the Messenger Kids app will not have any ads, and promises that your child's information won't be used for ads. The app aims to create an experience like Facebook Messenger for kids, ideally in an environment that is strictly used for communication.

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"We remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what goal it could be used", they wrote.

James Steyer heads the not-for-profit group Common Sense, which seeks to promote safe technology and media for children.

Otherwise, the social giant has provided only limited, basic details about the privacy protections baked into Messenger Kids. He also wonders whether the parents of child users will receive ads based on the new service. "We encourage Facebook to clarify their policies from the start so that it is perfectly clear what parents are signing up for". But that's slightly changing now, as the company has made a decision to open the doors of its Messenger services to the kids. The steps taken show that Facebook is taking "a leadership role in developing responsible corporate practices that could be the basis for industry-wide guidelines", the group said in a statement. "It is too early to understand fully how young people's engagement with this new generation of digital interactive platforms will impact their psychosocial development", she stated.

Federal law prohibits Internet companies from collecting personal information on kids under 13 without their parents' permission and imposes restrictions on advertising to them. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page. Hai Do was the editor. Do you think Messenger Kids is a good idea?