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How Young Is Too Young for Facebook?

Updated on February 14, 2020

One of the problems I have with this is that all of the kids compatible sites, educational and gaming require email registration. So my 4 year old has a Forwarding address to my account, so he can log in and use the service under supervision and safety. He also uses G+ to use the video service with GrandParents and Family friends. There should be no reason why children of any age cant use the internet in perfect safety as long as they are supervised to a certain extent and most importantly educated about it. In my opinion most adults need educating aswel as the majority of people share far too much personal information where they shouldn't and expose themselves. (Set your security options, educate your children, supervise them, place computers only in public areas of the house and dont buy laptops etc, dont share any personal information online unless your happy to live with the consequences and DONT ADD STRANGERS AS CONTACTS OR FRIENDS)

But on Monday, Facebook introduced an app, called Messenger Kids, that is targeted at that age group and asks parents to give their approval so children can message, add filters and doodle on photos they send to one another. It is a bet that the app can introduce a new generation of users to the Silicon Valley giant’s ever-expanding social media universe.

So on Monday, Facebook launched its first app tailored for young users. It's a ringfenced network that needs parental approval before use, and will not - the company has promised - be used to feed data for advertising.

"easy to solve" may not be so easy. To do this, Facebook (and Google et al) would have to create completely new sites that are COPPA-compliant. The fact that very few companies have done such a thing, period, shows that it's likely not financially viable for them. And they are, after all, in it for the money — not the COPPA lawsuits.

Strictly speaking, only those aged 13 and over are allowed to use Facebook. But the prevention methods are trivial, meaning more than 20 million under-13-year-olds are thought to be using the network.

“Even as adults, we know we are not fully in control of our impulses, otherwise supermarkets wouldn’t put chocolates next to the checkout. We go there, not planning to buy them, but impulsively put the chocolates in our trolley.”

To use the app, parents must download it from the App Store and then authenticate it with their Facebook user name and password. Only then can an account be created for a child, with the process requiring only a name for the profile. Contacts are added through an “Explore” section of the app that should let parents search and find other contacts. Users with existing Facebook accounts, like relatives, can create Messenger Kids accounts to chat with the children, with parents having control over which contacts are approved and show up as online when a child uses the app.

If two children want to be friends on Messenger Kids, that friendship has to be approved by a parent for each child. Once confirmed to be safe, friends can do live video chat and send pictures and text to each other.

Facebook says it’s going to great lengths to make sure the app does not come off as exploitative. “There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” the company writes in a blog post. Facebook says Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. That’s the federal law that protects underage children from exploitation online, and it’s the reason so many online services require children be 13 years of age or older in order to sign up. Facebook says the new app is only available in the US, with plans to expand its availability beyond iOS to the Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.

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