Facebook Messenger for kids? Yeah, it totally exists. If you haven’t already received the memo (umm, rather the text, email or tweet), the social media giant recently created a version of their ever-popular Messenger app — but for kids. Yes, kids. And, no surprise here, health experts aren’t happy about it.
Okay, okay, before we all jump to criticize the powers that be at Facebook as irresponsible, they did consult online safety experts during the app creation process. They’ve also equipped the app with parental controls galore, helping to make sure that inappropriate content doesn’t make its way to your kiddo.
The app itself is a free video calling/messaging service that allows children to connect with friends and family that are only parent-approved. Along with having complete control over the contact list, messages stick around (in other words, they don’t get magically whisked away to a social media void after a set number of seconds) and there are controls that prevent kids from hiding them.
Oh, and here’s another major safety feature — if your child wants to add one of their friends, not only do you have to approve the contact, but you need to friend the other child’s parent through Facebook. And if you’re wondering how Facebook would allow children to have their own accounts, they aren’t. Your child is not creating a Facebook profile. You’re making a Messenger Kids account that’s totally separate.
Despite the kind of genius safety controls, some experts still aren’t game for giving young children this much social media or messaging freedom. Along with the added screen time that it encourages, the health experts behind a letter written by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood feel that children aren’t ready to, “navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among more mature users.”
Would you let your child use the Messenger Kids app? Share your thoughts in the comments below.