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Messenger Kids has sparked a lot of discussions regarding the online safety of children and their potential exposure to harmful individuals. However, Facebook is adamant to tackle such risks by instead providing what they claim is a safe environment that is completely controlled by parents and has full transparency. Only friends or family that have been pre-approved will be able to speak to the child and as it’s just a messenger app, the child doesn’t have, nor can he/she see another’s profile.
Designed to be a fun space for kids, the app lets users video call grandparents and use stickers or GIFs to play and make funny faces, exchange birthday wishes and decorated photos with other children — provided that both sets of parents have authorized the connection. The app is also touted as providing children with a way to contact parents, without needing a phone number.
Some parents may be coming around as the app already counts a rating of over 4 stars on the app stores. It also helps that Facebook has designed Messenger Kids to be compliant with important child privacy laws like the US’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Multiple institutions were consulted during the making, such as the National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop. What’s more,1200 parents, online security and child development specialists have also been involved to explore concerns.
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