Facebook is launching new tools on its Messenger app that would be geared toward kids stuck at home because of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
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Because schools remain closed, the social media app announced the launch of Messenger Kids, an app with parental controls that lets children between the ages of 6 through 12 send text messages and have video chats. The feature is available in more than 70 countries.
The parental controls will allow moms and dads to monitor their child’s social media activity while they connect with friends, family members, teachers and coaches online.
Parents can choose to let their kids control their own friend requests through its "Supervised Friending" tool instead of having to manage each request on their child’s behalf. Moms and Dad will still, however, get notifications about the Messenger friends their kids are approving and can override them through the app's Parent Dashboard.
The app's "Groups" feature is also changing. Parents will be able to approve an adult -- such as another parent, family member, teacher or coach -- to monitor their kid's group chat.
Facebook’s kids' messaging service has received backlash in the past for its online safety practices. Last year, a glitch enabled kids to make group chats with others that were not approved by their parents. The error garnered the attention of Congress last year with senators urging Facebook to practice better privacy and security.