FEW big technology companies have dared to create online products for boys and girls aged 13 and younger.
Chief executive Javed Khan said today: "We have serious concerns about young children using Messenger Kids and would urge Facebook to work with child safety experts before introducing it in the United Kingdom to protect children from grooming or sharing inappropriate images". If two children want to be friends with each other, each will have to get parental approval for contact. Facebook has done a lot of research with thousands of parents as well child development experts. 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. However, the new move will open up use of the network to those under 13.
"Messages won't send nor can I receive messages".
"It's hard for them to grasp concepts like privacy, who is using their data, or insight into how they might be manipulated through persuasive design - and they are really just starting to build awareness about their identity, role in relationships, and morality", she said in an e-mail. Google in March introduced Family Link, which allows parents to set up kid-friendly Google accounts for children under 13. The app is compliant with COPPA, it added. The main catch is that these kids can only engage Facebook users through the new app as long as their parents or guardians approve of them. The app requires an adult with a Facebook account to set up the app for his child.
But some consumer advocacy groups question whether the app will remain free of ads in the future and if Facebook will use the data to target parents with ads. At launch, kids can use it on a iPad or iPhone in order to video chat with a grandparent or message a cousin or send a decorated photo to a friend. Facebook's safeguards have made it more hard for strangers to contact a child, they said. "In order for parents to effectively do that, they need to understand the app and let their kids know that they have the ability to check in and see what they're doing", she says.
The app, which will be in a preview release on iOS devices before rolling out to a wider audience, is Facebook's latest effort to increase the number of people who rely on its service to connect with one another regularly.
How does Facebook Messenger Kids work?
If you're interested in testing it out, Messenger Kids is now available for Apple products in the United States only.
There are concerns the app could lead to more online bullying.
"There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads", reads Facebook's statement.