Facebook now has a locked-down Messenger app for children

Facebook has just released a new Facebook Messenger app, designed for parents to keep tabs on their kids.

“In addition to our research with thousands of parents, we’ve engaged with over a dozen expert advisors in the areas of child development, online safety and children’s media and technology who’ve helped inform our approach to building our first app for kids,”  Facebook’s Loren Cheng writes, “We’ve also had thought-provoking conversations around topics of responsible online communication, parental controls and much more with organizations like National PTA and Blue Star Families, where we heard firsthand how parents and caregivers approach raising children in today’s digitally connected world.”

Facebook Messenger for Kids is much like the regular app, with limitations. Children are managed entirely by their parents, this means that parents have control over whom their children communicate with.

Gifs (filtered), stickers (filtered) and emoji are all present. and you get the usual text chat and video chat as well.

There aren’t any ads in this app, and Facebook is promising that it won’t be selling your children’s app data anytime soon, which is good news for privacy hawks.

As social media use is expanding, children are more likely to start using Facebook and other messaging apps before the age of 13. While parents could always try to wholesale restrict their children from social media, this often backfires and simply leads to hidden, unrestricted, social media use instead.

Facebook’s new app strikes a balance between total censorship, and total freedom, and allows parents to keep their children on a leash.

The firm has rolled this app out already to the US on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, but will be rolling it out to the rest of the world as well as the Google Play and Amazon Stores shortly.

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