Facebook's Messenger Kids: Parents grapple with social media dilemma

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sent a strong warning to Facebook
Christopher Furlong  Getty Images

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt sent a strong warning to Facebook Credit Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Parents have to use their Facebook email address and password to activate their child's account, but that does not log a parent into their child's device.

Despite Kaspersky Labs vouching on how secure the app is, the cybersecurity company still warns parents of Messenger Kids, particularly on text filtering and cyberbullying.

Jeremy Hunt told Facebook "stay away from kids" today after the social network unveiled its first ever app aimed at pre-teen children.

Marketing mattersFacebook said Messenger Kids will not display any advertisements or it will not collect data for marketing, though it will collect some data so that the app can necessary to run the service. A lot like the Facebook Messenger app for adults, but with parental controls.

Facebook also said it would block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content, and have a dedicated moderation team to respond to flagged content.

Facebook said the point of Messenger Kids was to provide a more controlled environment for the types of activities that were occurring across smartphones and tablets among family members. Once these parameters are set, kids can only see the approved contacts whether they are online or not.

And messages don't disappear and can't be hidden in case parents want to monitor them, Facebook says on its website.

Messenger Kids has also sparked concerns among some parents, pediatricians and consumer advocates who worry about the data Facebook will be gathering from kids. Davis said that if a parent decides to delete a child's account, Facebook will also delete any data from its own servers.

Loren Cheng, product director for Messenger Kids, said Facebook would not use for marketing purposes the details it collected from children. In layman's terms, it means kids get all the perks of video chatting and parents get peace of mind knowing that they're only allowed to talk to preapproved contacts. "It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases".

Where is Facebook Messenger Kids available?

It's an early version of the app with limited availability.

"So when we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking".

It is expected to launch in the United Kingdom in the coming months.

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