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How to Sign Your Child Up for Facebook's New 'Messenger Kids'

05 December 2017

For years, major tech firms such as Facebook complied with COPPA by not allowing those under 13 to have accounts. The narrowed app was designed after consultation with hundreds of parents and several children's advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Facebook said. "A website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent form a parent and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online". From there, parents will be able to add and remove contacts to a child's account. As is the case with the regular Facebook app, the camera in Messenger Kids is loaded with stickers and effects - all of which have been made specifically for the child-friendly app and aren't available in Facebook's other services.

Right now, you can only do that in a feature-crippled Messenger Kids app available as a preview on United States iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches, but a Google Play and Amazon App Store expansion will definitely happen "in the coming months", and the general concept might be something worth exploring for the larger Facebook platform as well. Adults can use the normal Messenger app to talk to the kids on Messenger Kids - it's completely interoperable.

"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", Loren Cheng, product management director at Facebook, said in a blog post.

The app will be iOS-only when it launches in the next few days, with an Android version to follow later in the month ...

The parents are the only people who can add contacts for their kids. But the technology giant today announced a new version of the service that could bump its active user base up considerably.

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Facebook said it will collect some data, including a child's name, the content of their messages and data about how the app is being used - even if it is not as extensive as the information it asks from adults.

It's "The Social Network" meets "Sesame Street". That means when a child reports a conversation that they find offensive or block an individual user in the app (or vice versa), the parent is notified on Facebook. "They need to be outside, interacting with their friends (and family) in person and learning how to have real conversation and social skills", Hempe said.

Like any business, Facebook's goals shouldn't be viewed as entirely altruistic, even if Messenger Kids is free to download and use. Facebook also said it won't automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company might give them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.

The application is available for preview in the U.S. and will roll out to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch initially.

How to Sign Your Child Up for Facebook's New 'Messenger Kids'