On December 4th, Facebook announced that they were launching a new Messenger (private messaging) Facebook App for 6-12 year olds (the official Facebook, according to terms and conditions, only available from age 13), although there’s nothing to stop under-13s using it:
Today, in the US, we’re rolling out a preview of Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person. After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the US, we found that there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want.
To give kids and parents a fun, safer solution, we built Messenger Kids, a standalone app that lives on kids’ tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook account. Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families. This preview is available on the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone.
I spoke to Fly FM (part of Nottingham Trent Uni), on Wednesday, partly based on what I’d posted re appropriate ages on an earlier blogpost, and a clip was used in a radio programme today:
Other media coverage varied, as always – here’s a handful:
- Financial Times: ‘Facebook launches messaging app for kids as young as six’
- Wired: ‘FACEBOOK FOR 6-YEAR-OLDS? WELCOME TO MESSENGER KIDS’
- Huffington Post: ‘Messenger Kids: Facebook’s Commitment To Promoting Digital Literacy’
- Daily Mail: ”It’s fraught with danger’: Parenting expert slams new Facebook app designed to lure kids as young as SIX onto social media’
- The Verge: ‘How Messenger Kids takes more from families than it gives them’
- Popular Science: ‘Facebook Messenger Kids probably won’t ruin your children’
- The Guardian: ‘Jeremy Hunt is right. Please, Facebook, leave our kids alone’
Good to see other apps such as BBC’s ‘Own It’ web portal being launched to help navigate the digital environment.
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.