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Published on Oct 11, 2021
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Sophia Clark

Messenger Kids: Is the Facebook App Safe For Children?

Facebook is one of the most extensively used social networking platforms for adults nowadays. More than 2 billion people use it to communicate, with about half of them using Messenger, the company's text chat and video tool.

In 2017, Facebook announced Messenger Kids, a video chat and messaging tool for kids to engage with their family and close friends. Many parents are concerned about how a kid's exposure to technology and social media can hinder their development. The overuse of social media has an adverse effect on kids.

According to a 2018 survey by the GlobalWebIndex, “People aged 16 to 24 spent an average of three hours and one minute each day on social media”.

With cyberbullying, scams, identity threats, pornography, the proliferation of inappropriate content, and other risks for children associated with the use of social media, it begs the question: Can social apps like Messenger kids help a child develop effectively during their early years?

So here is detailed information about the Messenger Kids App so that you can make a good decision for your family.

What Is Messenger Kids?

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Messenger Kids is a Facebook-created free chat software for kids. It is aimed towards a younger age group, specifically youngsters under the age of thirteen. It functions similarly to standard Facebook Messenger, with the exception that parents are the gatekeepers.

It means that parents manage all the settings from the Messenger Kids section present in their Facebook account. Parents can opt to make their child's name and profile photo accessible to their child's contacts (and their parents), and their own Facebook friends' kids.

Facebook's Messenger Kids app does not have stories like in Facebook App. But it does include a lot more photo filters (unicorns, aliens, stinky fish) and a few games. It ensures that your kids communicate with their friends and families in a fun and age-appropriate environment. This app allows parents to monitor every element of the kid's app. It is similar to training wheels for a child's first social media experience. It provides parents more control than any other social networking platform.

How Does Messenger Kids Work?

To set up Messenger Kids on your child's device, you need to use your own Facebook account. It can be set up only by parents and have control of their child's Messenger Kids account. After that, you can accomplish the following actions:

  • You can add contacts for your child through your account or opt into the Supervised Friending function. The feature allows youngsters to choose their contacts when you download the Messenger Kids app and log in.
  • Set time limits in the app.
  • It allows you to log your kids out of the app from a distance.
  • It allows you to deny or approve new connections requested by their children.
  • You can manage their child's contact lists.

Kids can use Messenger Kids on their device or yours, but you need to keep in mind that they'll have access to all of your images and videos if they use it on your phone.

Privacy Policy and Security Features for Messenger Kids

The privacy policies of Messenger Kids are similar to that of the Facebook App. Whenever your kids use the Messenger Kids App, the following information is collected.

Privacy Policy

  • There are no in-app purchases.
  • There is no advertising in the app.
  • A parent's account is used to register the child.
  • On Facebook, children's accounts are hidden.

Security Features

  • Nudity, sexual content, and violence are prohibited from being shared.
  • The app comes preloaded with age-appropriate emojis, Gifs, and stickers, and a dedicated support team will respond rapidly to flagged content.
  • There are no secret Google Search backdoors in the app.

Parental Control Features In Messenger Kids

Parents can use the parental control features to better understand how their child uses the app to monitor their kid's activities. Parent Dashboard features allow you to monitor how and when your child shares data and who they can communicate with. The parent dashboard features include:

  • Monitor Recent Chat History

It allows you to check your kid's recent chat history and find out who is video chatting or sending messages. It gives you a history of how often such interactions have occurred in the last 30 days.

  • Image Counts In Chats

In your child's inbox, it allows you to view the most recent photos and videos that they have sent and received. You can remove an image or video from your child's messaging thread and report it if you think it is inappropriate.

  • View Reported and Blocked Contacts History

It allows you to view all the reporting and blocking actions performed by your kids in the app. You may see a list of the contacts your child has blocked or unblocked, as well as whether they've reported any messages or contacts and why they did so. Parents are informed about these actions via Messenger.

  • Remote Device Logout

You can see all of your child's devices where Messenger Kids is installed and log out of the app on any of them using the Parent Dashboard. This function is not intended to control when children have access to the app. For that, you need to use Sleep Mode.

  • Download Kid's Information

It allows you to download your kid's Messenger Kids information the same way you download your information from the Facebook app. This information includes the child's contacts and messages, photographs, and videos sent and received. But when you request this information, it will notify your child via the Messenger Kids app.

Pros of Messenger Kids Application

  • Parental Controls

It is one of the app's most important features. Parents have the last say over who their child associates with. If you wish to connect with your child using the app, you must be FB friends with that child's parent.

  • Permanent Chat History

Unlike services like Snapchat, messages cannot be deleted by either party; only parents have access. As a result, it helps to avoid bullying and the dissemination of unsuitable content and gives parents the ability to monitor talks.

  • No Ads, In-App Purchases With Other Apps

There are no advertisements, in-app purchases, or data sharing with other apps. Aside from the link to the parent's Facebook account.

  • Kid-Friendly Functionality

Age-appropriate stickers, stamps, GIFs, frames, and sketching features allow children to be creative and have fun with their messaging.

  • Age Appropriate Introduction To Social Media

Parents may use the app to guide and oversee their children when they begin to communicate online.

  • Helps To Develop Digital Literacy Skills

Experts who support the program say it's a good, safe approach for learning these important skills.

Cons of Messenger Kids Application

  • Bullying and Improper Content

Regardless of parental settings, your child may still get unpleasant communications from pals. Bullying is common and may happen anywhere.

  • Digital footprint

Some parents and critics are concerned about Facebook's data collection practices and the formation of a digital footprint for such young children. Facebook has issued a Privacy Policy for the app to address some of these concerns.

  • Can Contribute to Impaired Development of Social Skills

Child development experts warn that a child's face-to-face social skills can be harmed by focusing on internet contact. It is due to their inability to read essential social cues such as body language and voice tone.

  • Encouraging Screen Use/Addiction

Some critics argue that such apps contribute to the rising problem of screen addiction.

Finally:

Messenger Kids app is intended to provide you control over how and when your child shares information, as well as who they can contact with. It also provides you access to the information your child shares and receives, as well as insights into how your kids use the app. The answer to the question “Is Messenger Kids Safe for Kids?” depends on how carefully you monitor your kid's online behaviors. It is essential to be updated about Facebook's Privacy Policy as they create a major impact on your ability to control your child's use of the app. Thus, Messenger Kids can be beneficial in getting kids ready for full-fledged social apps if it is utilized as a training wheel with lots of parent participation and conversation.

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Sophia Clark

Sophia Clark is a writer from Sydney, kid-lit enthusiast, and mom of three kids who loves to writes about motherhood, parenting, and big feelings.