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Facebook announces new messaging app just for kids and families

POSTED December 5, 2017 1:29 a.m.
Facebook announced a new messaging app on Monday that will make it easier for you and your children to communicate.

The new messaging app will be for children 6 to 12 and does not require a Facebook account. Federal laws require users to be 13 years old or older to sign up for Facebook, The Verge reported.

For Messenger Kids, families can control who their child can contact.

Facebook released a preview of the app Monday with a limited rollout.

"There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” the company wrote in a blog post.

The app will offer video and text chat, along with playful filters for children. Parents can download the app from the App Store and open it using their Facebook account.

Families members who wish to speak with children can create Messenger Kids accounts. Parents have final say over who can contact children, though.

Kristelle Lavallee, a children’s psychology expert and content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University, told The Guardian that the app “makes parents the gatekeepers.”

But parents don’t have full control of their child’s behavior. According to TechCrunch, parents can not spy on their children’s messages.

Instead, parents must ask their children for permission.

However, parents will receive a notification if their child reads anything objectionable.

Facebook said that the app could prepare children to join Facebook in the future.

“When you think about things at scale that we do to get people to care more about Messenger, this is one that addresses a real need for parents,” Facebook’s head of Messenger David Marcus told TechCrunch. “But the side effect will be that they use Messenger more and create family groups.”

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