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Facebook unveils chat app for kids, with parental controls

06 December 2017

Instead, parents download the Messenger Kids app to a child's iPhone or iPad (Android coming soon). Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.

The app is only available on Apple devices for now. Marcus added, "This is what we're going to address and fix".

This is the first time Facebook has developed an app specifically for kids. With Facebook nearly 14 years old itself, children not yet born when it launched are now allowed on its main app. CEO Mark Zuckerberg just had two kids. Parents have to approve all their children's contacts, and they won't be shown adverts.

You won't be able to see what your kid is saying or what they're seeing from the management panel, which could be a deal breaker for parents of kids at the lower end of Messenger Kids' age range.

Playful masks, emojis and sound effects bring conversations to life.

Lavallee, who is the content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University, said about the Messenger Kids a "useful tool" that "makes parents the gatekeepers".

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Messenger Kids gives parents more control. Messenger Kids accounts also won't be automatically turned into full Facebook accounts at age 13, the company said.

The social network said it had consulted with parents and experts to ensure child safety in using the app, but Mr Hunt has accused the tech giant of failing to act responsibly.

YouTube has recently received criticism over concerns with its Kids app, which features videos tailored toward children.

Marketing mattersFacebook said Messenger Kids will not display any advertisements or it will not collect data for marketing, though it will collect some data so that the app can necessary to run the service. "It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases", Cheng added, as quoted by The Verge. Plus, it follows all the rules of COPPA, the law that protects children's online privacy. Rolled out in the United States for the moment, Messenger Kids is a stand-alone app that will be available on kids' tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent's Facebook account.

Common Sense Media, a U.S. non-profit "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families", has looked extensively at the proliferation of social media use among young children.

Facebook unveils chat app for kids, with parental controls