Facebook launches messenger for kids under 13

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The company also said it will not automatically migrate Messenger Kids accounts into Facebook pages when the app's users turn 13. After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the U.S., we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year.

Facebook in turn began rolling out Messenger Kids on Monday, "a standalone app that lives on kids' tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent's Facebook account", according to the company. The app has so far only been released for Apple's iOS operating system, for use on iPads, iPhones and the iPod touch. Facebook has chose to launch a messaging app for children to chat with others approved by their parents.

Earlier this week, the watchdog organization Center for Digital Democracy, which helped to pass the Children's Privacy Protection Act, praised Facebook's launch of the new service.

In doing so, Facebook immediately reignited a furious debate about how young is too young for children to use mobile apps and how parents should deal with the steady creep of technology into family life. But, per the app's privacy policy, Facebook also collects information on the content of messages.

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Messenger Kids comes with a variety of controls for parents. The app allows for users to engage in one-on-one or group chats, and send photos, videos or text messages to contacts. Messenger Kids is interoperable with the main Messenger app, so adults don't actually have to download the Kids app.

You can set your child up with a Messenger Kids account with four easy steps. 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. Parents can then create a profile for the child as an extension of their own Facebook account. The device can then be handed over to your child so he or she can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.

While children do use messaging and social media apps designed for teenagers and adults, those services aren't built for them, said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service.
To get there, click on "More" on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click "Messenger Kids" in the Explore section.

"The reality is that kids are going to go use apps if they're under 13", he said. "By designing an ad-free and safe environment for children, Facebook is playing a leadership role in developing responsible corporate practices that could be the basis for industry-wide guidelines".

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Some children's and privacy groups commended Facebook for saying that Messenger Kids would give parents control over children's messaging and not show ads to children.

This preview of Messenger Kids is only available in the USA at this time on the Apple App Store, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.

"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the United States, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want". No endorsement is implied.

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