Social media enable the development or sharing of knowledge, ideas, career preferences and other modes of expression through virtual communities. While there is a range of negative effects on social media some of which being criticized, such as privacy problems, information overload and fake news.
Social media can be a dangerous environment, especially for underage users. Facebook’s Messenger Kids is designed to help children stay connected to friends and family at the same time in a fun, parent-controlled environment. The app was first launched on the U.S. market a while ago, and now Facebook has announced a global expansion for 75 countries, including Malaysia.
Messenger Kids is an instant messaging application with video chat functionality, just like the full version of Facebook Messenger. However, several features differentiate it by allowing parents to exercise some control. Initially, a parent has to set up the account to monitor contacts and manage the features on the parent dashboard. Some features can be controlled by parents, such as the following:
- Manage your child’s contacts
Decide which family members and close friends your child can talk to.
- Messaging and video calling made just for kids
Kid-friendly filters, reactions and sound effects make video chats with friends and family even better.
- Kids use the app on their own device
Parent to chat with the child directly from the Messenger app.
Masks, emojis, and sound effects that are commonly used in Messaging messages are now child-friendly, while children will also have access to a special library of GIFs, stickers, and other visual effects. The Messenger Kids app also allows children to connect with adult accounts with images, GIFs, videos, and text messages — adults can receive messages on the “adult” Messenger app.
Facebook says the app is the result of a joint effort with Facebook’s Youth Advisors, child safety advocates and educators who have also been listed during development.
“We continue to consult child safety advocates and educators to ensure we’re providing a service that balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.”
Set up Messenger Kids
It’s a relatively easy process to set up a Messenger Kids account for your child.
- First, download the Messenger Kids app for iOS devices on the App Store.
- You’ll need to authenticate the computer that your child uses, using your own Facebook username and password.
- Then, within the setup process, create a separate account for your kid. You can also select from a selection of opt-in features here.
- You can monitor who your child has on the contact list. Go to the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard on the main Facebook app.
This is just about it. It’s worthy of note that Facebook’s kid-friendly app is free of advertising, and more importantly, Facebook also says that children’s information is not used for advertising. In addition, the app has zero in-app purchases and is designed to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
Messenger Kids is now available to download for parents in Malaysia today. To find out more, click here.