Facebook is planning to extend its services to children who are under the age of 13. The company will release a new version of its standalone messaging app, Messenger, called Messenger kids. Through this new app, kids will safely communicate with their parents and friends as it was designed to prevent child predator threats.
Messenger Kids will let parent download the app on their child’s smartphone or tablet, and then control the profile remotely. In other words, kids won’t be able to add any new contacts without their parent’s approval. A parent would have to be Facebook friends with their kid’s contact and they would need to agree to a connection request.
Facebook aims to enable kids to safely use the Messenger app without needing a phone number. This will also eliminate any unwanted attempts from strangers to contact children.
While Messenger kids will be a great way of monitoring a child’s activity, this is also a surefire way of extending Facebook’s reach into the preteen market. The company has been losing some of its teen users to other apps, like Snapchat or Instagram, even though Facebook owns the latter.
The move is also a logical add-on to a user who is just getting accustomed to the layout of a regular Messenger app, with kids eventually graduating to the basic package. Facebook hopes this new app will help parent minimize bullying or abuse situations.
The digital platform took its time and organized several focus groups where parents expressed their concerns and needs regarding their children’s social media activity.
“It’s really hard to keep the control over who (kids) communicate with, how they communicate, what tools are at their disposal,” said David Marcus, head of Facebook Messenger. “This is what we’re going to address and fix.”
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