The American corporation and social media, Facebook, announced this Monday it’s launching a Messenger application specially designed for children under the age of thirteen. Thus, allowing them to communicate with other contacts under the supervision of their parents.
The company will start releasing a preview version for iOS devices. If everything goes well, it will proceed giving access to the entire smartphone community.
Facebook wants to retake advantage of other applications that allow kids to be users, like Snapchat. The social media has always had a policy that denies the entrance of the youngest to protect them from predators and people who would harm them in many ways. However, this new application will let them chat with other friends who also have Messenger kids or the common Messenger.
The actual Facebook Messenger is used monthly by billions of people around the world, but mostly adults. Now, kids are also going to be able to form part of the Messenger community – no matter if they don’t have a Facebook account or a phone number. The only thing they need is their parents’ permission to be inside a much more controlled environment.
“Right now for kids, the time they spend on devices is very passive,” said David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook. “It’s not really a device that helps you connect with others close to them.”
The American company said that new special walls were put to protect the integrity of every child: kids won’t be allowed to share any kind of nudity, sexual or violent content, thanks to proactive detection safety filters. However, in case any user alerts Facebook of being a victim of harassment or inappropriate situation, the social media also said it deployed a dedicated support team to attend the victim immediately.
The social media also manually examined Giphy to make children able only to share funny and friendly GIFs. Furthermore, it added new filters and stickers to video calls, so they can have more fun while calling siblings or friends.
Facebook has talked with many groups of US parents
The company said it had interviewed thousands of parenting groups, child behavioral experts, safety organizations, and parents across the country, asking them what they think about the application, and what to do to make it appropriate for their children.
Some parents expressed their concerns about kids spending a lot of time in front of computers and smartphones’ screens. Also, they said they feel tech companies are building up a trove of data on their children’s online habits.
Moreover, Facebook said that Messenger Kids complies with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) law. Meaning, the company won’t be directly monetizing the app, automatically creating accounts for the young users after they turn 13, or collecting their data.
“When you think about things at scale that we do to get people to care more about Messenger, this is one that addresses a real need for parents” said David Marcus. “But the side effect will be that they use Messenger more and create family groups.”
In the end, Facebook is expecting these kids to want to become part of the main app’s community.