Facebook launches Messenger Kids for ages 6-12 years in Sub-Saharan Africa

Messenger Kids

As social media consumption increases, there has also been an increase in security concerns as age restrictions become topical.

More and more children are using social media to engage with their friends and families during the lockdown to stay connected. Unfortunately, the top social media applications are only suitable for children over the age of 12.

Now, Facebook has launched Messenger Kids which is suitable for children under 12, but above six years old.

Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that aims to help children connect with friends and family in a fun but parent-controlled space.

To address security concerns, Facebook has consulted with youth and social media experts to ensure that the application is safe to use for these age groups.

Some child development advocates have come forward, arguing that the app irresponsible and should be shut down.

Kids will be able to take pictures, videos, and use emojis that they can send to their friends and relatives, with the approval of their parents.

Commenting on the launch, Kojo Boakye, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa said: “We know that parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family online. With privacy, security and parental control at the heart of the app, Messenger Kids provides a safe, fun space, controlled by parents to do exactly that.”

Safety expert Evelyn Kasina, Family IT Consultant, Eveminet, added: It is our responsibility to ensure online safety for our children. The greatest sign of success is when our children display responsible independence during their online interaction. The launch of Facebook Messenger Kids is an amazing stride toward child online safety because our young children will enjoy and participate on social media on child developed platforms that have safety parameters to keep them safe.”

Through the Parent Dashboard, parents can control and monitor their child’s activity enabling them to:

  • Monitor recent contacts, chat history, and reported and blocked contacts: including who your child is chatting with, whether they are video chatting or sending messages and how frequently those conversations happened over the past 30 days. You’ll also see a list of the contacts your child has blocked and/or unblocked, if they have reported any messages as well as any contacts they’ve reported and the reason for their action. Parents will continue to be notified via Messenger if their child blocks or reports someone.
  • See a log of images and videos in chats: See the most recent photos and videos your child has sent and received in their inbox. If you believe an image or video is not appropriate for your child, you can remove it from your child’s message thread and report it.
  • Enable Supervised Friending: This feature will enable parents to choose to allow their kids to also accept, reject, add or remove contacts, while maintaining the ability to override any new contact approvals from the Parent Dashboard. When a kid takes a friending action, parents will be notified through Messenger and can override any new connections made by going to the Parent Dashboard, where they will also be able to see a log of recent activities.
  • Remote Device Logout: See all devices where your child is logged in to Messenger Kids and log out of the app on any device through the Parent Dashboard
  • Download your child’s information: Request a copy of your child’s Messenger Kids information, similar to how you can download your own information within the Facebook app. The download will include a list of your child’s contacts as well as the messages, images and videos they have sent and received. Your child will be notified through the Messenger Kids app when you request this information.

More Information on Messenger Kids

  • There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads.
  • It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.
  • Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
  • Facebook continues to work with parents, safety and security experts to improve Messenger Kids and have also announced new ways to help parents connect kids with their friends.
  • For more specific information about the app, visit messengerkids.com.

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