Facebook Messenger for kids
A quick list of what they say about the security features:
- No ads
- No in-app purchases
- Contact is limited by “approved contacts”
- Compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)
Don’t be fooled by this list – if you want to know the nitty-gritty details of their data policy for Messenger for Kids – you can read it all right here. From the policy:
We may transfer information we collect to third party service providers that support our business, such as companies that provide technical infrastructure or support (like a content delivery network), provide customer service, or analyze how Messenger Kids is being used to help us improve the service.
It’s in the US only for now, and iOS only as well.
Pros: It’s nice to have a safe-place like Messenger for kids where you can just let your kids go.
It’s also a huge plus that it works with the existing messenger, so friends and family can talk to children in their friends and family.
Cons: This doesn’t teach kids the skills needed to move beyond Messenger for kids (yet). I’m always a bit negative on experiences that allow a gradual induction to the reality of online messaging.
If we look at the difference between this and Facebook Messenger, which is only for people ages 13+, there is a stark difference between the two. Completely protected or completely unprotected. Where is the middle ground? What is Facebook doing to teach kids ages 10-13? How about 13-18? How about adults?
Taking a look at the data policies for this app makes it pretty clear: Facebook is watching what your kids do. They aren’t sharing it with others, but if history repeats itself Facebook is going to use this data to learn what your kids like and possibly serve you advertising for their interests.
And as with all free services, the kids become the product. What they say and do on this app will change their digital fingerprint – it will inform Facebook of your child’s habits and how they are related to you. And it will probably follow them for their entire life. As Facebook sells off this information or becomes another company, your child’s profile will live on.
- Great way to experiment with messaging with kids.
- Facebook is tracking and using their information extensively.
- Teach your children about online privacy and messaging through standard texting
- Build trust with your family not by installing apps and letting them roam free; do it together
- Talk about boundaries, how to respond to content that is scary, dangerous or violent
- Giving your child safe access to chat programs and practice messaging with parents (play walkie-talkie)
I’ll continue to post updates here as more news about this new service develops.