Is it safe? Can I see every message? Is it connected to big (and sometimes scary) Facebook?
These are the questions I had for the Facebook team when I met with them in NYC last week to discuss the brand new Messenger Kids app. This brand new app allows kids mainly from 6-11 to connect with friends and family (that you approve of) through a really fun app–without creating an actual Facebook account.
Here are some of the questions we asked, with the detailed answers so you can decide whether or not the Messenger Kids App is right for your family.
- Where is the app available?
- Messenger Kids will be available only in the US, and only on iOS devices to start— Android and Kindle are coming soon.
- What are you doing to keep kids safe on Messenger Kids?
- Messenger Kids is built for kids to connect with parent-approved family and friends. Kids can only chat with people their parent has approved (unlike other places on the web), which makes it a safer, more controlled environment.
- We understand that communication with kids is unique so we’ve built systems that can detect that can detect certain types of abusive content and help keep it from appearing in Messenger Kids.
- We’ve also built features to provide additional control. Kids can block people they do not want to be connected to, and parents can remove people from a child’s contact list at any time. This also hides the child from the blocked person, who can no longer see them on the app.
- Parents can look at their kid’s device. Parents and children can also report inappropriate content from the child account in the Messenger Kids app. There is an option to provide more context before reporting the content.
- We will notify a parent through Messenger when their child reports content or other accounts on Messenger Kids, or if their child sends content that gets reported by another child. This notification will also link out to a Messenger Kids web page that provides conversation starters if you’re struggling with how to have a conversation with your child about what they reported or sent.
- We will remove reported content, including images or videos, that do not meet our Community Standards. We will remove accounts from the app that repeatedly violate our Community Standards.
- Are there ads in Messenger Kids? Will you use the data to target advertising to my kids?
- No. There’s no advertising in the app.
- How are you going to use data?
- When you sign up your child for a Messenger Kids account, we don’t create a profile for them on Facebook or anywhere else. We don’t migrate them to Facebook when they turn 13.
- Messenger Kids collects little data, but like any app, we need some data to operate.
- We’re clear with parents about how data is used and the controls they have over their child’s experience.
- Like any other messaging app we collect data to do things like display the previous messages in a conversation, to put most frequent contacts at the top of the contact list, and to find ways we can improve the app (like understanding which sticker packs are most used).
- We do not use data from Messenger Kids for ads.
- Will you automatically migrate people to Facebook or Messenger when they turn 13?
- No. Messenger Kids and Messenger are separate apps, and we will not automatically move users from Messenger Kids to any of our other apps and services, including Facebook.
Trying out the Messenger Kids App
We were able to try out the app first hand and I’ve gotta admit it’s actually a lot of fun. I see this being super useful for when I travel for business, or when I am simply in another borough and the kids want to get in contact with me in a fun way. There are lots of filters and fun learning modules that make the Messenger Kids App super fun!