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Facebook Messenger For Kids Now Available, Users Under 13 Need Approval To Chat

Kids Using Smartphone.Tim Gouw/Pexels

The internet can be a terrible place and children can be especially vulnerable to sexual predators posing as teens. On the other hand, it’s also natural that kids would want to chat with their friends on services like Facebook Messenger. In an effort to grow its own user base while still protecting preteens, the platform is offering a new messaging app that’s exclusively focused on children.

Called “Messenger Kids,” it’s basically the same as the original Messenger but with lots more privacy features, TechCrunch reports. For starters, the app is meant to be downloaded by the parents who will also be the ones to create the profile of their children, and then add only the contacts that they approve of.

The profiles of these tweens won’t require phone numbers and they won’t have an account on the main Facebook platform. This messaging service will simply allow them to participate in chats among approved groups and members. For now, the app is only available for iOS devices.

As Loren Cheng, Facebooks product management director told the publication, the company has been working closely with authorities to make sure that children will be able to use the service without being in danger of online predators. By keeping the young users in a bubble created by the parents, they are less likely to come in contact with pedophiles and abusive characters.

“We’ve been working closely with the FTC so we’re lockstep with them. ‘This works’, they said,” Cheng said. “In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone.”

Even children’s safety experts are chiming in on the potential uses for the new app saying that it’s quite helpful, Business Insider reports. On the other hand, in cases where the kids are more tech-savvy than their parents, there’s no telling how much protection “Messenger Kids” can actually provide.

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