Today, nearly half of all Facebook users use Messenger, Messenger’s text chat and video app. While older kids are likely to switch to Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, younger kids opt for the fun illustrations and interactive filters of Facebook’s Messenger Kids app in record numbers.
Messenger Kids’ central selling point is its ability to allow parents to watch what their children are doing online in real-time while still allowing them to rely on existing Facebook networks. Kids enjoy having more autonomy while parents find comfort in monitoring what their children are doing.
Does Messenger Kids live up to their promise of being a safe, fun, and accessible place for children to connect with people they care about? Do Messenger Kids support positive development during an individual child’s
formative years? We’ll clear your every doubt.
What is Messanger Kids?
Designed for kids aged 6 through 12, Messenger Kids is a stand-alone messaging app you can use via tablet or smartphone. You don’t have to use a phone number or Facebook account to use Messenger Kids.
Other apps exist that offer this service, but Messenger Kids has its safety features (you’ll learn what those are shortly). Plus, it’s linked to the Internet’s top social network. Friends and family can reach out to Messenger Kids users via their existing Facebook Messenger account.
How do Messenger Kids work?
Messenger Kids requires parents to have a Facebook account to use it. You can either add contacts from your account or turn on Supervised Friending, which lets your kids choose their friends (you still receive notifications for new contacts your kid adds).
Children can use Messenger Kids on their phone or yours without accessing your photos and videos. Supervised Friending helps kids make friends easily since it makes it more visible within the app.
Is Messenger Kids safe?
It’s relatively safe to use the app because parents approve all the contacts and add them to the app.
Some risks are common to all social media. Kids — and their contacts — can post photos and videos, download them to the camera roll, and share them, so the information they post should be kid-appropriate and stay inside the app.
Research has been predominantly inconclusive on the long-term effects of social media on young people’s mental health. It is beneficial for young people to keep in touch with family and friends who may live far away, but it is certainly not universally helpful.
Studies indicate that tween girls, in particular, are vulnerable to the social comparison that happens over social media, making them susceptible to anxiety. However, if you monitor your kid’s Messenger Kids use carefully, you might also see early signs of stress.
Does Messenger Kids influence healthy development?
It is essential to consider if Messenger Kids is a good fit for your family and if the type of social app is appropriate for kids age 6 to 12. Jennifer Shapka, a developmental psychologist, says it is relatively unlikely that kids age 6 to 12 will benefit from this type of app because children in this developmental stage are still searching for meaningful connections with friends.
As such, it is essential to remember that you are still the most crucial social agent in your child’s life at this stage. Well, you don’t have to worry about adding or removing Facebook tags. Friends only become necessary once the teen years have arrived. Although most young children will enjoy the app, Shapka points out that it could just as quickly be a game with its fun masks, sound effects, and stickers which they will enjoy.
Pros of Messanger for Kids
1. Communication skills
By using Facebook, kids can stay in touch with current friends and make new ones. When used correctly, social media can help kids feel less isolated and increase their self-esteem.
A Facebook page enables a child to express herself and share her interests on the web, join a group of friends and support a fan page. They can chat with people in common interests.
3. Digital competence
Being able to manage a Facebook page teaches a child how to take and post pictures and navigate the web. This skill will become increasingly important as they grow old.
4. Development of educational programs
Most tweens and teens use social networking to discuss schoolwork. Sharing information about school assignments is one of the best reasons to allow access to social networks.
Cons of Messanger for Kids:
1. Kids can sometimes be mean.
It does not matter how much you educate your child about online behaviour, and other children will still make mean comments.
2. An account on Facebook is the gateway to the entire Internet.
A Facebook account will give your child access to the whole Internet — links and pop-up ads are everywhere. However, if you do not trust your child to stay within the Facebook environment, then a Facebook account may not be a good idea for him or her.
3. Beware of friends of friends
It’s not always your child’s friends who are the problem, but rather friends of friends. Always check out a new friend’s page and friend list to ensure they’re not hiding anything.
Whatever you decide, attempt to make the decision together. If you feel it’s not the right time, then set an appropriate time when you can revisit the issue. The last thing you want is for your child to run off to a friend’s house and open an account on their own.