Facebook Messenger Kids to receive new update with promising features and security

Facebook Messenger Kids to receive new update with promising features and security
Facebook will roll out a new update for their children-oriented messenger app, Facebook Messenger Kids. As we all know, the minimum age requirement for creating a Facebook account is 13 years old, in accordance with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), however Facebook has desired for some time to provide service to younger children too. According to Larry Magid, the CEO of the non-profit ConnectSafely.org, Mark Zuckerberg values education from a really early age, and even though the app is not educational, it strives to provide safer social media environment for children between 6 and 12 years old.

This morning the refresh of the app has been announced by Facebook for the countries that it’s available in, such as the US, Canada, Peru and Mexico.

Since the launch of the app in 2017, for registration, the name of the child is required instead of the phone number. The app is managed by the parents and they can approve or disapprove contacts, as well as see what images and videos their children are sending and receiving. A Facebook account is not automatically created when the child reaches 13 years of age.

With the new update, the service is reported to provide even more security. According to Facebook’s statement about the update, the new functionalities are accessible from the Parent Dashboard. Parents can visualize recent contacts and chat history (up to 30 days) and a log of images in chats. They can also check on the history of the reported and blocked contacts and receive a notification if their child is blocking someone. What’s more, if the child loses their smartphone, as is to be expected with children sometimes, parents can activate the remote device logout for the account. They will also have the possibility to request the child’s information.

Additionally, with Facebook’s new education policy, Facebook Messenger Kids is aiming to teach children using child-appropriate language and pictures about what information is seen by others about them and what data is logged by the app.

Facebook will provide parents with a 90-day period to accept the policy.

Although the secure app’s functionality may sound exciting to many parents, it's worth mentioning that Facebook Messenger Kids spiked some controversy when it was first launched in 2017. The Wired magazine published information about Facebook funding a lot of the reviewers that praised the app, including ConnectSafely’s CEO Larry Magid, who is at the same time a member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board. However, Facebook’s Product Manager Morgan Brown has stated in a post that they don’t use children’s information for advertising and they have never sold and will never sell children’s information to anyone.


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