There's a new kid in the yard … but it's really just Facebook disguised Minions T-shirt and Heelys. Say hello to Messenger Kids, Facebook's new messaging, chat and video application for children from 6 to 12 years old.
Federal law prohibits children under 13 from having Facebook accounts, but this application recognizes that many of them are online anyway and tries to create a safe space for them, one where parents can control who their contacts are and where advertising and in-app purchases do not try to enter their developing minds. The application is free and is only available in the US. UU in iOS for now, but Facebook plans to expand to Android in the future.
The application has filters, stickers and drawing tools similar to Snapchat for children to play, as well as "GIFs suitable for children and specially chosen", which is something mediocre to imagine. Facebook worked with parent groups like National PTA to develop the application. Parents must authenticate the accounts of the children before the young people begin to use it.
In contrast to Amazon's recent futile effort to capture a teen audience, the new Facebook application seems to recognize that, despite the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, many children are likely to already be in services like Facebook. When announcing the application, Facebook cited figures from the market researcher Dubit that say that 93 percent of children aged 6 to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones, and 66 percent of them have smartphones or tablets of their own. While the attempt to provide a non-exploitative space for children is commendable, it will not be lost, well, anyone that this movement will also prepare a new generation of children to be future users of Facebook. One of the quotes that Facebook included in its press pack about the product comes to this tension: "Messenger Kids is more than a fun way to communicate with friends and family approved by their parents, it is also a training wheel for social networks. and the messages, "said Larry Magid, CEO and co-founder of ConnectSafely.org. Training wheels for digital literacy, without a doubt, not to mention a lifetime of addiction to social networks!
Messenger Kids comes at a time when more and more companies are experimenting with stores for children. The New York Times recently created a regular section for children on Sunday, and the sister company of Slate Panoply hosts Pinna, a podcast subscription service for children. But the difficulty of regulating content for children has also been in the news, with the YouTube service for children under public light for the disturbing videos that thrive there. For Facebook, what is at stake may be partially existential: although Snapchat has stumbled since it went public earlier this year, it still represents a significant competitor with Facebook for teens and young adults. With Messenger Kids, Facebook is beginning to engage tomorrow's teenagers.
And it's not just about the age of the audience. Messaging is an increasingly important area for technology companies, as they realize that users can spend more time on messages than on any other social platform.
All this is to say: I am very excited to exchange Moana GIF with my friends from 6 to 12 years old, as long as their parents approve it.