Another Meta creation has arrived, “the video, voice and messaging app designed for kids.”

Meta has developed this app to provide a safe place where kids can communicate with their friends and family, with the support of parental controls – Get in!

Messenger Kids is a free video, voice and messaging app for all smartphones and tablets. Parents can control the contact list and the kids can enjoy the fun features such as filters, stickers and games that spark conversation.

Made for kids. Controlled by parents… Let’s check it out those parental controls:

Messenger Kids was created as a response to the 7.5 million children signing up to Facebook whilst being under the age of 13 (the legal age for someone to have Facebook).

Whilst many of those under age children have signed up with the help or knowledge of a parent, there are good reasons for Facebook and other social media platforms restricting the age to 13+. “One of the main reasons why social media and messaging services try to block children under 13 is to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The act requires children younger than 13 to have verifiable parental consent before they can disclose personal information to a commercial service. However, because these services are all about sharing, it’s nearly impossible to operate without collecting personal information.

In other words, “officially”, these services are for teens and adults, which is one reason why it’s disturbing that younger children sneak in. Facebook has privacy protections for teenagers under 18, but these protections aren’t designed for younger children who lack the maturity to navigate the choppy waters of social media.” (Facebook, Parent Conversations)

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, wanted to create an app where children from the age of 6 to 12 could practise engaging in conversations and exchange voice messages, images and videos with people their parents know and trust.

Things to note:

  • Messenger Kids HAS to be set up by a parent, children can not do it by themselves
  • There is no advertising on Messenger Kids and the childrens’ data is not collected for commercial purposes
  • Messenger Kids is NOT a backdoor into other Meta products. The company has stated they do not plan to automatically migrate children to Facebook or any other Meta service when they turn 13.

“I think of Messenger Kids as training wheels for social media and messaging. It’s also like a sandbox. Kids can injure themselves in sandboxes, but they’re a lot safer than playing in the street.” – Founder of ConnectSafely