(WTNH) — Facebook rolled out Facebook Messenger for Kids targeted at children between the ages of six and twelve years old Monday as a method to communicate with pre-approved family and friends in a standalone app.
Available for iOS devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the app was created in response to a need for a safe messaging app for children. In a study conducted by Facebook and consulting firm, Dubit, 93% of children between the ages of 6-12 have access to a smartphone or tablet, while 2/3 of those children do have their own device.
The move has drawn some criticism about exposing children to social media networks at a young age while others appreciate the roll-out for a more controlled environment to allow for this type of activity. With 2 billion people using Facebook and 1.3 billion on Facebook Messenger, what should you know about this new app targeted at children?
- Only for iOS: The app is only available for those in the United States on iOS at this time but they hope to introduce Android soon
- Meets Federal Regulations: Facebook Messenger for Kids meets regulations of the US Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) and worked with online safety organizations like Blue Star Families and National PTA to develop the app
- Security Features: There are moderation functionalities to scan for inappropriate content in real-time to protect children
- Parental Controls: Plans to install additional parental controls such as limiting the time with the app will be features Facebook is working on
- Prevention of Cyber Bullying: The app allows for reporting of bullying by the child which will notify parents
- Free to Download: Facebook aims to be non-exploitative so the app is free, there is no option for any in-app purchases and ads are not served to children
- Communication Features: The app offers both video and text chat
- Creative Photo Content: There are age-appropriate photo masks, filters, GIFs, stickers and drawing tools