What’s going on?
Facebook is unveiling Messenger Kids, a version of the app that works through a parent’s account and gives kids ages 6 to 12 a way to chat without violating Facebook’s age limit (you need to be at least 13 to have a full-fledged account). Kids can chat with other Messenger and Messenger Kids users that have been approved by a parent.
Is it safe?
Yes … according to Facebook. The social network says it’s been working with federal regulators to make sure they’re all on the same page, and special safety filters will prevent young users from sharing nudity, sexual content and violence. Facebook has also promised a kid-friendly version of Giphy so Messenger Kids users can have some clean fun with colorful gifs.
Kids won’t show up in Facebook search, and Messenger Kids makes you jump through some hoops for your kid to connect through the app. Parents allowing their kid to connect with a friend on the app will have to first add their child’s friend’s parent on the social network.
What about ads?
Messenger Kids is ad-free and not monetized for ads, so Facebook won’t (yet) be selling your kids’ information to advertisers.
Glenn wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of yet another app competing for our attention and in this case, specifically targeting little kids.
“Are we not distracted enough already?” he asked. “We now need our 6-year-olds walking around the playground with their nose in a screen?”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Do you want your 6-year-old using Facebook? This week, Facebook launched a new app called Messenger Kids. It’s an app for kids to use on their tablets or smartphones. But parents can control it from their Facebook account. Facebook says it’s addressing the need for a messaging app designed specifically for kids, but with the level of controls that parents want.
Oh, another app to target my children. As young as six. I feel good.
Don’t worry. Facebook says it has spent months talking to parenting groups, behavioral experts, and families to develop the app. So it’s completely safe and even healthy for your child, according to Facebook.
Quote, this opens up a whole new world to online communication for families, end quote.
Eh, maybe so. But I think it also opens up a whole new world of worms and the American culture. Are we not distracted enough already?
We now need our 6-year-olds walking around the playground with their nose in the screens. This app just gives kids more technology — you know, another thingamajig to bug mom and dad about. Mom, I just need it for a second. Yeah, Mom, I just need it for a second.
And right before Christmas too. Thank you, Facebook.
Another drawback, it doesn’t just provide predators, hackers, and Vladimir Putin with you, it also now hands your children over to them as well. Another point of attack. That’s great. Thank you, Facebook.
Facebook says there are no ads in the app. And your child’s information will not be used. They super promise never to use it for marketing purposes.
Uh-huh. But remember, really all this is one giant marketing app. It’s just marketing Facebook. It’s a massive recruiting tool. Facebook wants to hook kids on their social media product for the long-term. Now, you have to be 13 to have a regular Facebook account. But now, magically, you can have one at six. Yay! Oh, I want my kids just to be able to have access to all kinds of strangers at six years old.
Facebook says it’s not going to automatically convert Messenger Kids accounts to adult accounts when they turn 13. So they could keep that account if they wanted to, until they were 30.
Even if this plan works, they won’t need to. The kid will already want to be a customer for life on Facebook, unless they’ve got a creepy reason for hiding their age. Part of me — part of me is saying, run! Especially when something is specifically designed to hook my kids. On the other hand, I’ve been reading a lot about technology, and, you know, those of us who say, I just want them to have a normal childhood, that’s normal for us. What’s normal for the next generation is communicating electronically. It is.
Sixty-six percent of our kids now six through 12 have their own smartphone or tablet. Do we allow our kids to use these kinds of apps to help them to be able to swim with the tide? Is it appropriate?
Every new gadget and app raises new questions. But this technology is moving so fast, that we don’t have time to answer the deep questions before the next development.