Like adults, children also feel the need to interact with their friends and family. Messenger Kids might be a good option if you want to give your little ones an online messaging experience while keeping specific safety guidelines in mind. It is specifically designed for kids and has several unique and interactive features.
But regardless of the control, some parents still wonder if Messenger is unsafe for children. In this article, we’ll discuss the safety features and risks of the app.
What Is Messenger Kids?
Messenger Kids is a socializing and connectivity app for children. It allows kids to message, call, and play with their contacts. Messenger Kids also has interactive features, animations, and filters that attract kids of all ages. They can also play single and multi-user games with others within the app.
The app also has a simpler user interface than the regular version of Messenger. You can customize the profile, add pictures, and even change the contact names.
Parents can set up this app for kids and have complete access to the activities. There are no hidden in-app purchases and there’s no advertising.
What Are Messenger Kids’ Safety Features?
Messenger Kids is a parent-controlled app with a variety of features to help parents control and monitor a child’s messaging experience.
There are a number of features that help parents create a safer online environment for kids.
Messenger Kids is developed for children under the age of 13. Parents can set up their child’s profile by linking their own personal Facebook account with the app. Add your child’s name and a list of trustworthy Facebook contacts.
To add other children, you need to be Facebook friends with their parents. Getting started with Messenger Kids gives parents control over who can be a part of their child’s Messenger account.
The app also gives parents complete access to their child’s Messenger. So, unless you approve it, there is no way your child can chat with someone other than the people you allow.
You can also add another guardian or person in charge who monitors their activities while you are away.
Parents can also look at the recent chats, file sharing, and chat history. This gives a better idea of what your child is up to with their friends.
App Time Limits
You can also set up modes like Sleep and Online Status, which make Messenger Kids inaccessible during a specific time.
Limiting app time is a great feature especially if you do not want your child to become a technology addict. Also, it helps create a healthy balance between schoolwork, physical activities, and social media.
Risks Associated With Messenger Kids
Messenger Kids also come with several risks and dangers despite its safety features. Let’s elaborate on them to determine whether the app is really worth your time…
Risk of Cyberbullying
Although Messenger Kids has a controlled and monitored contact list, there is a possibility that people in their circle are bullying them.
For instance, a group conversation may lead to something nasty. Parents can access the chats and discussions, but you don’t know what happens during calls.
This is where your role as a parent comes in. Give your child some safety guidelines and details about cyberbullying.
Ideally, you should be open to discussion, so that they feel more comfortable sharing a problem.
Fortunately, Messenger Kids does come with an option to report and block a user. If this happens, the parent’s account receives a notification. Instead of ignoring your child, consider it an opportunity to talk to them and discuss what’s happening.
While Messenger Kids gives parents complete control over who they are talking to, there is no record of the conversations on calls. Kids can video chat with interactive features and filters, but there is nothing to store those calls for a review.
This could lead to inappropriate conversations, harassment, and scams. Since your child also deserves privacy to have fun with their friends, the best thing you can do in this case is to keep tabs on what the call is about and check in with them.
Another option is to install a screen recorder on their mobile/tablet and record the session with their knowledge. But this might make your kid unhappy though because they expect privacy when talking to their social circle.
The best way to check what happened during the call is by having a polite discussion with them about their relationship with people on Messenger. People with good relationships with their kids can learn more about them than those who don’t.
Fake Accounts and Hacking
Facebook is among the best social media apps but fake accounts and hacking can still occur. Since Messenger Kids is linked to parents’ Facebook accounts, a hacker can also gain access to your child’s account if they compromise yours. This activity can affect the contacts linked to the app as well.
You may think that your kid is chatting with their best friend from school, but there might be a hacker sending malicious links.
Data Leaks and Privacy Breaches
Most advertisers use data scraping mechanisms to collect information about their target users. This information includes profile links, emails, phone numbers, and even chats. Other than this, Facebook reviews the account details for ad suggestions and profile reviews.
Keep Your Kids Safe on Messenger Kids
Messenger Kids is a platform designed specifically for children under 13 so the app has many safety features.
But there’s still the risk of cyberbullying and hacking. You can reduce these risks by keeping tabs on the app and asking children about their recent activities.
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