Published on Nov 11, 2021
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?
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.