Facebook previews Messenger Kids, new messaging and video chat for children

A new app lunched by Facebook Messenger Kids

A new app lunched by Facebook Messenger Kids

Once a parent adds someone to their child's contact list through the main Facebook app, kids can video chat as well as send photos, videos, and texts, or pick something from "a library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks, and drawing tools", according to Facebook's announcement post.

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. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages.

Facebook is launching a new chat app for kids, the company announced Monday.

Facebook has come up with a Messenger for Kids, a chat app specifically designed for kids under 13 years old. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, not counting subsidiary apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.

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At the same time, Facebook is promising not to sell ads into the Messenger Kids stream nor to automatically move the kids onto Facebook when they are eligible. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases in the app, and Facebook says it can detect certain types of abusive content and prevent it from appearing in Messenger Kids.

Messenger Kids is the product of over 12 months of development by the Messenger team, which also spoke to hundreds of parents, primarily in the US, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia. A child can't even create an account on his or her own - a parent must do it for them.

Messenger Kids may be completely separate from Facebook's other apps, but a lot of the parental management happens through Facebook. "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".

For families who prefer an Android flavor of Messenger, fret not, there will be a version arriving on Google Play and the Amazon App Store "in the coming months".

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Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert and content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, worked with Facebook to develop the app. That means when a child reports a conversation that they find offensive or block an individual user in the app (or vice versa), the parent is notified on Facebook.

The Messenger Kids app on an iPad. 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.

Major tech firms have recently released more products that allow children to engage within the limits of the privacy law - and that reach more of the country's approximately 50 million children under the age of 13 in the process.

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