A new announcement by Facebook recently raised a few eyebrows among the parenting community. The social media giant launched their latest app "Messenger Kids" - that allows children to safely video chat and message with family and kids (just like how the actual Facebook works)- but with more parental controls. This app, currently rolled out on iOS, is co-developed with kids, parents and experts and aims to connect children and families in a safe manner.
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Here are some key takeaways from this app for every parent:
1. Messenger Kids ≠ Facebook
Unlike Facebook, where you have access to other in-house as well as external apps, Messenger Kids offers no such options to children. There is no advertising as well, so you are sure that there is no data collected for commercial purposes.
2. No "Unknown Friend Requests"
Unlike Facebook where all and sundry can visit your profile (for the default privacy settings) and send you a friend request, Messenger Kids has made sure this access rests with the parents. Parents must approve all contacts, and kids can’t communicate with anyone who isn’t pre-approved. So you are assured, that your child can't add any new contact or friend without your approval.
3. Parent-Parent Facebook Friends
We told you how your child will not be able to add new contacts unless you are 'Friends' with the other parent on FB. Now honestly, that's an added pressure for parents- you would now have to be Friends with this other parent so that your children can chat on this latest app. Parent's privacy gone for a toss?
4. Why the correct details, ask experts?
This app aimed at 6-12-year-olds gets parents to create the accounts with the child's real name and age unlike something like a nickname or a cartoon for identification. With no clarity on why this attention to detail, experts are concerned if there is a chance to automatically bulk convert these children IDs into FB profiled when they reach the age of 13. Puzzling.
5. Do we need more digital interaction?
In this era, when parents and educationists are concerned about the hours of screen time for kids, this app that promises a strict parental control, isn't quite convincing about why children should spend any more time on the phone/tablet chatting and sharing photos? Maybe not just parental controls, but strict rules and time limits are what we need from parents, henceforth?
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What's your take on this, parents? Do you approve of the app and see it as a way for kids to connect with one another or as an intrusion of privacy and digital exposure for the little minds? Tell us in the comments below!