Facebook has recently made the new Messenger Kids app available to the public. While the tech giant declared its felicitous promise with the app, there have been quite oppositions as well as questions on the app's viability. Is Facebook Messenger Kids really safe?
"Overall, the environment seems very sterile and secure," says cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs in a blog post on Tuesday, December 5.
During the announcement launch of the new app, Facebook Product Management director Loren Cheng said the app "makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends."
"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the US, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want," notes Cheng in a statement.
Messenger Kids is the app for all ages, unlike the Facebook and Messenger apps that require users to be at least 13 years old. But some concern on targeting advertisements is making some parents wary.
"There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child's information isn't used for ads," reads Facebook's statement. "It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases. Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)."
Despite Kaspersky Labs vouching on how secure the app is, the cybersecurity company still warns parents of Messenger Kids, particularly on text filtering and cyberbullying.
"One potential downside we discussed is the lack of text filtering. If a kid asks their parent to add all of their classmates who are also using Messenger Kids, for example, the app could become just another way for kids to bully or gang up on one another."
Kaspersky Labs' David Emm recommends parents to openly talk to their children about cyberbullying and the potential dangers of chatting online. He adds encouraging the kids to share their online experiences including the uncomfortable or threatening ones.
Emm also notes that clear ground rules on online chatting should be in place, and they have to be explained why they are set.