Kids love social media. They like sending messages to friends and family. They absolutely love using filters and masks to share silly images of themselves. The problem is that social media wasn’t created for kids. It is for grown ups. That makes the social media world dangerous for our -13 kids. Enter Facebook, who is now trying to make social media and messaging safer for our children. Messenger Kids was released in the U.S. today on ios and the new app brings some favorite Facebook messenger features to our youngest family members.
You set up your child’s account for them and they don’t need a Facebook profile to use Messenger Kids. Once you’ve downloaded the app and logged in with your own Facebook info, it will let you add your kids to the app and then ask them to take a photo and enter some information. Then, as simple as that they’re able to chat with you. To add contacts you search or browse your friend list and give your child permission to contact them by clicking “Add.” It can all be done from your own Facebook settings without access to your child’s device. They can also ask permission to add someone to their messenger app.
As far as privacy and settings, Facebook has to be pretty specific with their rules. For example, Messenger Kids doesn’t collect ad data, their profile won’t show up in search, there is no advertising within the app, and there is no automatic account upgrade once your kids reach Facebook’s approved age. This is good news and proves that Facebook put some thought and research into what would make the Messenger Kids app fun and safe for kids. Messages don’t disappear and can’t be deleted or hidden. If an inappropriate image is sent, the child can report and the parents will be alerted that their kid has reported something that made them uncomfortable. One of the very few cons of the app is that parents can’t see videos or messages that their kids have sent and received except for taking the device and looking for themselves. This is also, likely, due to privacy concerns and legal issues but it sure would be nice to at least be able to see messages that have been reported by our kids.
What Parents to Should Know
It isn’t very often I can fully recommend an app to parents but so far, I’m feeling like Messenger Kids meets my standards. The GIF options are curated by editors, not an algorithm and the filters are carefully selected and designed just for kids. Control is in the hands of the parent and that is exactly what I’m always wanting to see when it comes to apps designed for kids. The concern about time management does remain, however, so it is important to make sure your children are spending enough time doing other things. Messaging with family and friends can be fun but it is still screen time and it has been proven that kids need more than just screen time as entertainment. Use time management apps or just your own enforcement to be sure that your kids are only using Messenger Kids as long as you’ve decided is healthy.
It’s great to see an app that brings features that kids love into a safer environment for them. I downloaded this app and have set up an account for my 10-year-old son. He has already enjoyed sending messages, using the camera filters, and even playing an AR game that is included. Why don’t you check the app out too and send me a message or email me and let me know what you think?