Facebook boasts over 2 billion users and apparently its looking for more! This time the social site is going after kids under 13. Right now you have to be at least 13 to have an account. Most people use it to connect with far-away family and friends or reconnect with long-lost high school pals. So why would younger kids need to use it and why would parents want them to?
Parents are already worried enough about their kids on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and every new site that pops up. With so many creepers trolling online, and on social media why would parents trust Facebook?
Facebook thinks it has the answer.
Would you trust this new Facebook service for kids?
We're talking about Messenger Kids, a new service from Facebook. It's a free video calling and messaging app designed for kids to connect with close friends and family from their gadget. Facebook is promoting the new service as a secure way for kids to use its platform. Parents control who their kids can connect with by creating parent-approved contacts, which is supposedly a more controlled environment.
Since this is a standalone service, it functions differently than other Facebook accounts. There will be no ads on Messenger Kids and Facebook said it will not hand over data from the app to advertisers. But as a parent, can they promise no data breaches? Can they promise that my kids' identity, or personal information won't end up in the hands of hackers? We are talking about toddlers to 12 year olds here!
The social media giant did do its homework and spent over a year trying to come up with the child-safe service. Here are some of the app's security features intended to protect kids:
- Messenger Kids accounts are required to be associated with a parent's existing Facebook account.
- Parents approve all friend requests via their own Facebook account.
- Adults must be friends through Facebook with the parent of any child their kids want to message.
- If another child wants to chat, parents of both children need to be friends through Facebook.
- If a kid blocks or reports an account, parents are notified. Parents can also report and block accounts on their child's behalf.
Those security measures seem to be a good start, but again, do you trust it? Facebook said Messenger Kids is intended to provide your children with a more controlled environment. But if Facebook really wants to give us a more controlled environment, why not start by getting rid of the terrorists, fake news, child porn, ads for counterfeit products and so on?
This new app could be dubbed, Facebook and your kids: What could possibly go wrong?
The enticements of Messenger Kids
The Messenger Kids features are enticing; group or one-on-one video calls with loved ones and friends, fun interactive masks, stickers, reactions and sound effects and Messenger Kids allows kids to message and video call using Wi-Fi so they don't need a phone number. It all sounds great until we remember that this is the internet and the only way to keep young kids completely safe from online predators is to keep them offline.
The Messenger Kids app is currently only available for Apple gadgets. The app is expected to be available on Android gadgets and Amazon Fire tablets in the near future. What do you think, would you let a young child use this new Facebook app? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts.
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