Now, more than ever, parents should be aware of internet dangers and what can be done to keep children safe. Bullying, scams, and identity theft are just a few of the risks that may be hiding in plain sight for children online. And with more apps, like Messenger Kids, growing more popular, parents must keep an eye out for red flags that could put their kids in danger.
About Messenger Kids
Facebook unveiled Messenger Kids, a messaging and video chat platform that gives parents complete control of their kid’s use. Kids can use filters, stickers, play games, and video chat — just like Facebook’s popular Messenger chat function. The kids’ app also works with Messenger for approved adults to message, group chat, and video chat. The only significant difference is that parents have complete control of the app.
Parental controls and features included
Messenger Kids must be authenticated by the parent’s Messenger account during setup to ensure a trusted adult is helping practice internet safety. Parents have full control of Messenger Kids with these features:
- Manage and review your kid’s contact list.
- Report and block suspicious activity and accounts.
- Customize app controls, such as “Sleep Mode.”
- Remove friends or requests.
The app includes a parent dashboard to add and remove contacts, edit personal information, and delete images.
Messenger Kids privacy and security
- Any information when sharing content, such as a photo location or date a video is posted.
- Data about how people, groups, hashtags, and accounts use Facebook products.
- SMS log history, address books, or other information to make friend suggestions.
- The content, features, and people you interact with, including how long or often.
- Purchases, including banking or card numbers, contact, and shipping information.
The list of data collected goes on. Facebook explains why this information is collected — mainly for your experience — but there are still many risks at stake, including cybercriminals and data leaks.
So, even though parents have access to their kids’ apps with parental controls, that doesn’t stop Facebook from collecting personal data. The privacy standards are linked on the Messenger Kids website but easy to overlook.
Child online privacy laws to consider
Our take on Messenger Kids
All in all, Messenger Kids is deemed safe by us because of its extensive supervision and control features. Parents have the same access as kids do, and a parent with a Messenger account must authorize each kid’s account. If you’re on the fence about the app, you can always wait until they’re older or check out Messenger Kids’ Parent Resources for common questions, concerns, and internet safety tips.
If your child uses Messenger Kids, it’s important to discuss internet safety and what information should never be shared. Considering how much data Messenger and Facebook collects, you’ll want to be careful of what you post or send. As long as typical digital safety measures are taken, the app is a great way for kids to stay connected to family and friends. It also gives them their own safer space outside of more mature social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, which require users to be at least 13 years old.
Messenger Kids FAQs
No, kids don’t need a Facebook account for the app. Parents will need Messenger to authenticate their kid’s information and monitor activity.
The app is for kids ages 6-12.
Kids can report suspicious activity under the “Settings” icon near a person’s photo. You’ll see a “Report” button to complete the report. Parents can also see these reports in the Parent Dashboard.