Facebook App For iPhone Aimed At Catering to Child Users

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Rival platforms targeting youngsters, such as Snapchat, are also struggling to counter such threats, but typically, the golden rule for most parents is to keep their kids off social media apps and monitor their internet access.

The social media giant has launched a new app allowing young children to send messages through Facebook.

"More fun for kids, more control for parents", is the slogan Facebook is pushing for the app, now only available in the United States.

Reuters/Regis DuvignauFacebook's Messenger Kids allows for parent-controlled Messenger accounts for children.

Created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) which forbids children under the age of 13 from giving out their personal information without a parent's permission, every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. Simply put, Messenger Kids is a child-friendly, standalone Messenger app with strict parental controls, allowing kids to piggyback on their parent's account but without all the adult's privileges.

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The signup process needs nothing more than the name of the child.

There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads. "Video calls become so much more playful with AR", says Marcus. The device can then be handed over to your child so he or she can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.

But, he said it remains to be seen whether the app will continue to stay ad-free. "Sometimes after 5 or 10 minutes it's really hard to have a sustained conversation with a 7-year-old", but kids can joke around with Grampa using the selfie filters when they run out of run-on stories to tell them. Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). Facebook actually manually selected a set of GIFs that kids can use rather than relying on a third-party startup to tag things well enough. A dedicated support team will work 24/7 to address any flagged issues. "Kid-appropriate" emoji, masks, and sound effects are also included in the app. Parents won't be able to spy on their kids' chats.

Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13, enforced by the American Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, however tech-savvy pre-teens have already shown this to be easily bypassed. Instead, parents have to ask to look at their kids' screen, which Chung says is a more common behavior pattern. Children can report bullying or any unwanted communication in the app.

When children turn 13, they won't instantly have their Messenger Kids profiles turned into real Facebook profiles, nor will they get kicked off Messenger Kids. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.