Facebook app for kids raises questions

Health Secretary is dismayed by Facebook

Health Secretary is dismayed by Facebook

While Facebook said in the briefing that the app was designed for kids age 6 to 12, younger kids are allowed on, too. Dubbed "Messenger Kids" it's aimed at children under the age of 13 but is linked to their parents account who have full control over who they add as friends and can communicate with. An age barrier doesn't stop them using Facebook and if they're not on Facebook they're on Snapchat or a host of other social media sites. Parents wanted more control over their kids' online experiences.

There will also be no display adverts or data collected on users to target them in advertising campaigns unlike the present Facebook set up. It's a hard decision as to when your children are old enough to be given a certain amount of Internet freedom and many parents are likely to prefer to do this in a controlled manner compared to the alternative of free rein on the adult Internet. And it won't just be for communication that they use messaging tools, they'll be using it for so much more including shopping. The problem with this logic is it simply accepts that kids will spend hours buried in these apps.

But she said that while Facebook made the app 'with the best of intentions, ' it's not yet known how people will actually use it. Shopify for example enable retailers to Send order updates and respond to messages in Messenger.

The social network says its new kid-focused app is the result of more than a year of research, as well as advice and insight from online safety experts and roundtable discussions with parents.

"None of the messages disappear or can be deleted, so parents can look at their kid's device at any time to see their messages (this was a strong point of feedback we heard from parents)", a Facebook spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs.

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It's important to understand that kids under 13 still can't sign up for a Facebook account.

Messenger Kids is launching Monday in the US on Apple devices - the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will not be directly monetizing the kids app, but hopes they will become dedicated Facebook users in the future.

Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you'll need to do is provide their name. Instead, parents can download the app on their child's iPhone or iPad, create their profile and approve friends and family for their kids to chat with directly from the main Messenger app. To get there, click on "More" on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click "Messenger Kids" in the Explore section. Facebook has been working on Messenger Kids for the last 18 months, working closely with child development experts, educators, parents, and organizations including the National PTA and Blue Star Families.

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