Facebook launches Messenger for children

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New York.- Facebook will launch a message app for children to chat with their parents and friends approved by them.

The free app is aimed at children under 13, who according to Facebook rules can not have their own accounts, although they often have them.

Messenger Kids has several controls for parents. The service will not let children add their own friends or delete messages, only parents can do that.

And children do not receive a separate Facebook or Messenger account, rather it is an extension of parent accounts.

Although children use messaging apps and social networks designed for teens and adults, those services are not designed for them, said Kristelle Lavallee, an expert in child psychology who advised Facebook in the creation of the service.

“The risk of being exposed to things for which they are not prepared is huge,” he said. Messenger Kids, meanwhile, “is the result of seeing what children like”, which are emojis, images and things like that.

Colorful filters and masks can be a distraction for adults, Lavallee said, but for children who are just learning to form relationships and stay in digital contact with their parents, they are ways of expressing themselves.

Lavallee, who is a content strategist for the Children’s Health and Media Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University, says Messenger Kids is a “useful tool” that “makes parents the gatekeepers,” but said that Although Facebook designed the app “with the best intentions”, we still do not know how people will use it.

Like other tools released by Facebook previously, intentions and actual use do not always coincide. The live video of Facebook, for example, has been used for many benign and innocuous things, but also for streaming crimes and suicides.

Is Messenger Kids simply a Facebook way of attracting children? Stephen Balkam, general director of the Internet Family Safety Institute, says that has already happened.

Federal laws prohibit online companies from collecting personal information about children under the age of 13 without parental permission and imposing restrictions on advertising directed to them.

Therefore, Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit children from registering accounts. Even so, says Balkam, millions of children under the age of 13 are already on Facebook, with or without parental approval.

He said Facebook is trying to deal with the situation pragmatically, directing children to a service designed for them.

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