SOCIAL networking giant Facebook has launched a free new messenger app targeted at children aged 13 and under. Called ‘Messenger Kids’, the app allows children to chat with relatives and friends approved by their parents.
Local experts expect the app to help parents identify problematic conversations and online bullying. But some worry it might reduce the children’s real-life social interaction.
Under the current Facebook policy, children under 13 are not allowed to open their own accounts, though many do so anyway.
Loren Cheng, Facebook’s product management director, said the new app, which can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook account, is designed “to give kids and parents a fun and safe solution”.
Messenger Kids accounts are opened by parents using their own Facebook account information, and will not be separate from them. Children can use the app for video chats and to send out text messages, photos and videos to their family members and friends, but only those on a parent-approved contacts list. Children also cannot delete messages, and there will be no ads.
The app is only available at the moment in the United States. It is unclear when it will come to Hong Kong.
A social worker said the app provides one more platform for children to express themselves. Another expert said such an app will encourage children to use social media to communicate, but it might also reduce their real-life interaction with people.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 13 December 2017)
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