Messenger Kids is Facebook’s mobile messaging app aimed at children under the age of 13. It gives younger users access to a restricted version of Facebook’s text and video chat features. But should you install it for your kids? The controversial app is raising a lot of eyebrows from both parents and child development experts.
Critics Question Facebook’s Intentions
The goal of the Messenger Kids app is to let kids aged 6-12 safely communicate with friends and family on Facebook. But critics think it’s just a gateway for Facebook to lure younger users into the platform once they are 13 and can have a full account. Child development experts are calling for Facebook to shut down the app. As most parents struggle to limit their kid’s screen time, experts question why we would intentionally drive them to use an app.
Parental Control in Messenger Kids
One of the core advantages of the Messenger Kids app is that it gives parents control over who their kids can chat with using the app. Messenger Kids must be authenticated from a parent’s own Facebook account before the app can be activated, and parents have to approve new address book contacts before they can be added.
Targeting Younger Users
Going after the 13 and under demographic is something new for Facebook. Until now, the social network had strictly avoided products aimed at the 13-and-under crowd. Why? To avoid data and privacy regulations, particularly the strict Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. Facebook says the new app was specifically designed to be compliant with the law.
Available For iOS, Fire, and Android
The Messengers Kids app first debuted on iOS in December 2017. But as of February 14, 2018, the app is now also available for Android andAmazon Fire as well.