Messenger Kids, a messaging and video chat app designed specifically for kids, is being used by many parents because they can let their kids connect and chat with friends but at the same time still be able to monitor children’s activities and messages. However, any technology has a downside, and any filter can’t be 100% accurate, so parents should not be subjective but too dependent on children’s apps.
The article will help you better understand this “Facebook parental controls” for kids and help you answer the question: Is Facebook Messenger Kids safe for your children?
Is Facebook Messenger Kids safe for your children?
Understanding Messenger Kids
Is Messenger Kids different from messenger? Yes, Messenger Kids, a messaging and video chat app designed specifically for kids to communicate with family and close friends. Messenger Kids allows parents to download apps to their kids’ phones or tablets, create profiles for their kids, and approve friends and family with whom they can text and video call from the main Messenger app.
Technically, children under the age of 13 cannot use social media platforms (including Facebook) because COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act does not allow apps to collect data from children under 13 years old.
However, Messenger Kids meets this requirement because the parent actually registers and manages their child’s account on behalf of their child.
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Features of Messenger Kids
Safety and privacy are top concerns in Messenger Kids. Parents can:
- Set controls and manage your child’s contacts through the Parent Dashboard.
- Get notified when kids block or report unwanted contact.
- Agree to all the contacts you want to add and can remove any at any time.
- Put the app to sleep during times when you don’t want your child to use the app.
- Check your child’s activity because they can’t delete messages in Messenger Kids.
Some interesting features of Messenger Kids
- Stickers, GIFs, frames, and emojis are minimalistic and designed specifically for children.
- Kids can make one-on-one or group video calls using fun, interactive filters and feature-packed graphics that let kids create videos and decorate photos to share with loved ones.
Parents’ Guide for Messenger Kids
Steps for parents to set up Messenger Kids
- You download Messenger Kids from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android) to your child’s device.
- Select Next.
3. Click Confirm to confirm that you are the parent or legal guardian.
4. Enter your Facebook password to authorize the device.
5. Enter your child’s first and last name, date of birth, and select Continue.
6. Read through the list of Things We Want you to Know, and then select Create Account. In this section, Facebook wants you to confirm information about using Messenger Kids such as:
- The app will store information about your child’s app usage behavior such as device, contact, messages (including images, video, and audio) as well as feedback your child can send to the app.
- Parents or guardians need to consent to Messenger Kids collecting, using, and sharing their child’s information. However, they will not collect, use and share your child’s information without your consent.
7. Choose other kids to chat with (or you can skip this step).
8. Send an invite to your child’s friend’s parents (or you can skip this step).
9. Choose an adult to talk to, or skip this step.
10. You can add another parent or guardian.
11. If you want, choose a code that your child can give to friends to easily request permission to be a contact. Select Turn On Code or Not Now.
12. Tap Allow Access to send notifications, save and send photos and videos, and access the camera and microphone.
13. Select We Agree to accept Messenger Kids’ rules about committing to kind, respectful and safe behavior and having fun when kids use Messenger Kids.
Steps for your child to personalize the app
- Click Take a Photo to take a profile photo (or you can choose a photo from your personal photo library).
- Choose a color to decorate your app and select Next.
- Click Next to switch to the Messenger Kids app discovery section. At this time, the application will describe some information to guide children how to use such as:
- Everyone the child knows can see his or her name, picture, and contact list.
- Parents can see and download the messages their kids receive and send to their friends and see whom the kids talk to the most.
- Children cannot delete sent or received messages.
- The application will save information about the child’s usage behavior, when, and how.
4. The app is set up and now your child can add friends, play games, and learn more about the app.
How to manage your child’s Messenger Kids account
You access and manage your child’s Messenger Kids account from your Facebook account.
- Open the Facebook app
- Tap the three horizontal lines to open the menu.
- Tap your child’s name.
- Tap Activity to see your child’s recent contacts, groups, reports, contacts, and pictures in their profile.
- Tap Contacts to add and remove contacts.
- Press Control to access parental controls and add additional parents or guardians.
Is Facebook Messenger Kids Safe?
Pros and Cons of Facebook Messenger Kids: Although Messenger Kids is safe because children only talk to people they know like friends, family, and acquaintances, these close interactions also have the potential to be harmful to children. One of the most visible threats is cyberbullying.
This act of network capture can be done via video. Even though you know who and when your child calls, Messenger Kids doesn’t save the content of that video conversation. As a result, if your child is bullied by someone else, you still won’t be able to save the evidence.
Harmful content like pornographic
A recent tech article says there are certain limitations in Messenger Kids’ filtering system. According to the author, through some simple tests, they found that nude or semi-nude screenshots can pass through Facebook’s filter.
No tool can completely protect your child from adult content. So you need to regularly educate your children about what is and isn’t appropriate for them, and how pornography affects their brains, helping them understand how pornography distorts your child’s perspective on life.
Overall, Messenger Kids is a safe way for parents to allow their kids to stay in touch with friends and family members with parental supervision. However, don’t forget that there is a huge amount of porn content that is increasingly appearing as ads and aimed at children’s websites. And, parents can’t always monitor their child 24/7 or have time to go online with their children all the time.
To ensure your child’s online environment is safe and healthier, you should consider using an additional online content filtering tool – considered by many parents as one of the best free parental control software to hide 15 types of harmful content on the Internet, including:
- Horrifying content like gore, accidents, ghosts, violence, murder, terrorism, etc
- Content about stimulants, addictive substances such as alcohol, beer, marijuana, drugs, etc
- Content with aggressive elements, hurting others like Hate speech
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