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05 December 2017, 02:17 | Megan Pierce
Facebook targets 6- to 12-year-old demographic with new Messenger app
Facebook won't monetize Messenger Kids app. "We appreciate that for now, the product is ad-free and appears created to put parents in control".
The app, Messenger for Kids, will allow parents to have control over who their child chats or video calls with, as the app will be a part of the parents' own Facebook account.
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. That is still restricted to children age 13 and up.
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. Robinson said she might give Messenger Kids a try.
Facebook normally requires users to be at least 13 years old.
This follows a trend we've seen elsewhere in the technology realm, with companies looking for ways to hook children into their respective ecosystems as early as possible. "These are simple questions that parents need answers to before they sign their kids up", said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit that promotes online safety for children, in a statement.
Facebook introduces 'Messenger Kids'
Messenger for Kids launched Monday and is now only available through the Apple App Store, with Amazon and Google Play appearing "in the coming months", the Facebook press release said.
Perhaps most importantly, Facebook is launching Messenger Kids free of ads. 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.
At this time, Messenger Kids will be available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone devices for those in the United States, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.
The social network giant said children between the ages of 6 and 11 are most likely to gravitate toward the standalone app, raising concerns about its safety in the hands of such youngsters.
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. Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent.
It's "The Social Network" meets "Sesame Street". In order to befriend another child in Messenger Kids, a parent must also be friends with that child's parent on Facebook. A child can't even create an account on his or her own - a parent must do it for them.
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