Facebook Messenger Kids Beefs Up Parental Controls

John Lister's picture

Facebook has given parents more ability to monitor their child's use of its messaging tool. The move follows criticism of Facebook producing such a tool in the first place.

"Messenger Kids" launched back in 2017 for use by under 13s, who aren't allowed to use Facebook itself. The key selling point was that parents had to approve the contacts that the child could then exchange messages with. That hasn't always worked exactly as planned, as a glitch meant children could take part in group chats containing people who weren't approved or even that they'd blocked.

Parents will now be able to access details of the child's activity through their own Facebook account. (Messenger Kids has to be linked to an adult's account.) This will include details of who the child has exchanged messages with (and how frequently), including who they have made video calls to.

Images Can Be Viewed

The parent already gets a notification if the child blocks or reports another user. The changes mean they will be able to review a list of all such incidents. (Source: theverge.com)

Parents still won't be able to access the content of written messages by default. However, they will be able to view any images sent or received by the child. They will also be able to download a complete copy of all the child's data including the content of messages, though the child will get a notification when this happens. (Source: fb.com)

There will also be a rewrite of the user guides seen by children to use more appropriate and easy to understand information explaining how privacy works in the app.

No Data Used For Ads

Facebook says it will continue all existing protections, including not using any data gathered from the app for advertising or sharing it with third parties.

Responses to the changes have been mixed. Critics say there's no need for Facebook to be offering services to pre-teens in the first place and question their motives for doing so.

Contrastingly, defenders say its inevitable that kids who have Internet access will use some form of messaging app and that Messenger Kids gives a balance between parental control and child privacy.

What's Your Opinion?

Do the changes sound reasonable? Should Facebook offer such a service in the first place? Do you know who your kids or grandkids talk to online?

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