Last week, Facebook had launched its new Messenger Kids app, the first product by the company aimed at kids under 13. The app is only available in the United States. However, the social media giant is likely to roll out the app worldwide over the coming months.
Messenger Kids is a derived form of Facebook’s widely popular messaging platform, i.e. Messenger. The standalone app is intended for 6- to 12-year-olds, who are currently ineligible for making a typical FB account. However, only parents are liable to set up the account and approve the contacts that their children can add.
Once parents set up an account, pre-teens can not only use the messaging app to send pictures, text messages, and videos, but they can also start one-on-one or group video chat with the approved contacts. Ever since the launch of Facebook Messenger Kids, headlines have all ears on its potential shortcomings, concerns about tech addiction, data privacy, along with kids’ wellbeing.
However, there’s also another side to the story: teaching kids about messaging at a young age is crucial to prepare them for the hyper-connected world. Currently, there’s relatively a little research in Australia about toddlers’ and kids’ use of digital technologies. Studies in the UK and emerging Australia reveal that children enter in the online world at even earlier ages.
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Messaging is also rooted in multi-player games used by young kids, such as Clash of Clans and Minecraft. It’s worth notable that there’re both advantages and disadvantages allied with children connecting with others via apps and games, but the functionality is not going to head off. Learning about how to navigate social media together is now a salient feature of parenting and childhood.
Messenger Kids app is a remarkable innovation in the social media universe because it endorses learning about using social media together with children. The goal of the company is to develop online skills by providing a support for communication with known relatives and friends as kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts.
Some shreds of evidence have already proved that social media can be good for building friendships, mental health, and resilience. However, parents don’t believe that the app is a silver bullet solution to teach kids about the Internet. Instead, they need to see it as a one-stop-shop to foster healthy and respectful relationships with their kids and to learn through the technology.
At the moment, the Facebook Messenger Kids app boasts no ads, in-app purchases or sharing of data with other apps on the same device. Relative to Snapchat and other apps, the content can’t be deleted. So, parents have the ability to review their kids’ communication and take necessary steps if someone is being harassed.
Currently, Facebook has more than 2Bn monthly active users and chances are that kids will soon add to these statistics. With Messenger Kids, Facebook has become a part of the broader effort to help children and parents learn how to communicate safely and respectfully in a world flooded with social media.
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