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Messenger Kids
© 2017 Facebook, Inc.

CTR Review
Rating: 97.5%
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
Combining ease of use and power, this app -- which functions outside of Facebook, lets children (under 13 years-of-age) share text messages, photos, animated gifs and videos with (hopefully) parent-approved Facebook contacts.

The app opens a new COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act) compliant service; and a powerful social pipeline so that younger family members can communicate with others who are on Facebook. In fact, if you currently use a Facebook account, you are already using Messenger Kids, because it it piggybacks on existing Messenger features.

Here's how it works. After you download the app on your child's iOS device (for iOS 8 or newer), you must "authorize this device." If you don't, you can't use the app. This means you must log in using existing Facebook credentials. This does not give your child access to your Facebook account -- it merely lets this additional device that could be operated by a child, tap into your Messenger stream. By typing in your user name and password, you also grant the app permission to make the connection. You, as the holder of the account (the person who knows the password) can now grant access to others that you want in your child's network. In this way, the holder of the managing Facebook account holds the keys.

The paranoid won't like Messenger Kids because you are required to grant Facebook, Inc. access to a lot of new information -- including your child's communications, any content shared (including videos and pictures), things like high scores on games and device information. In addition your child's name and status will be visible to your other friends who are linked on Messenger accounts. So this app gives Facebook a way to start building a social profile of a child younger than 13, using your permission granting ability. This information can also be use by the "Facebook Family of Companies" who aren't clearly defined. Other interesting points from our testing.

• This is a big app (a 223 MB download).

• It's global -- in 33 languages.

• Messages don't disappear and can't be erased (like snapchat) and they also can't be hidden, in case a parent wants to go back through a history.

• No language filters are used. We were able to set up an account for our dog, and have her swear at us.

• There are no ads or in-app purchases presented to the child, and the app is free to download for as many children as you like.

• There's a large set of stickers, GIFs, frames and emojis that can help children express themselves without print.

• The camera icon lets you quickly capture a photo or video, and it is possible to mix in fun AR effects, like masks or hats.

• For children without a data plan, Messenger Kids works over a Wi-Fi connection. No phone number is needed.

• Creating a Messenger Kids account for a child does not create a Facebook account for them.

• Any person with an existing Facebook account can control their child’s contact list and can remove contacts at any time. So it is possible that a child could set up their own shell Facebook account to grant permission to themselves.

• Children can report or block contacts and report inappropriate content.

The bottom line? This is a welcome addition for any Facebook using family. It combines ease of use with powerful communication features, and no data plan is required.

No system is completely foolproof, and that it is possible for a child to create a fake account to grant permission to him/herself. Learn more at more information, visit http://messengerkids.com.
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