Facebook, the largest social media site recently announced the launch of its child-friendly version of its popular messaging service called ‘’Messenger Kids.’’
The app allows children aged 6 to 12 to text, send pictures and video chat just like on Facebook’s main messaging platform. It is said that strict controls are in place to regulate the activities of the children as it pertains to the usage to ensure that it is a safe and age-appropriate platform.
Parents need to approve their children’s contacts. This means that the kids can only use the service if a parent who must have a Facebook account of their own sets it up on their behalf. Parents are also able to approve who their children have virtual communications with. If a child was to add up another friend or classmate on the app, their parents would need to become friends as well. Messages exchanged via the platform cannot be deleted. This makes it possible for the parents to oversee what their children have been up to.
According to the Head of Messenger; David Marcus, the introduction of Messenger Kids is a way to give parents more control over what their children read, see and hear on smartphones and tablets, which have become commonplace in this tech-savvy generation. According to Facebook, 93% of 6- to 12-year-old children in the U.S. have access to smartphones and tablets, with about 80% of children in that same age range getting their first taste of social media too.
This new app seems to be the response to recent attacks on Facebook with people stating that half of British 11 and 12-year-olds, as well as more than a quarter of those aged 10, have their own social media profiles despite a supposed ban on children under the age of 13. This is because though Facebook has an age restriction, there is no requirement to prove age when signing up. It only asks for your date of birth and this can easily be faked.
The app is a nudge in the right direction. It has been launched in the United States and is expected to launch in the United Kingdom and other countries if it is successful. What is your impression? Will this work for us in Nigeria?