After concerns were raised about safety and security of the app, Facebook has rolled out an update that allows parents to monitor their children’s online activity. The new tools can be accessed via the Parent Dashboard in the main Facebook app.
The update provides parents with more control over who their children talk to and how often. It also gives them the ability to look at images and videos posted in chats. It also provides them with the option to remotely shut down the app from their own smartphones.
The app is designed to allow children under 13 to communicate in a safe, child friendly way away from their parent’s main Facebook account.
Since its launch in December 2017, the app has faced intense scrutiny over potential safety concerns and received mixed reviews from parents. Child advocacy groups have called for the the app to be shutdown saying it violates laws aimed at protecting children’s online privacy, they have also questioned why Facebook is targeting such a tool at children.
Criticism of the app increased after Facebook admitted a flaw had allowed children to participate in group chats with people that had not been approved as contacts by their parents. Facebook says that children will be notified if they are in the same group chat as someone that they have blocked. Kids will still have the option to unblock contacts if they decide to, and conversations with blocked individuals will stay in their inbox, providing parents with the option to review them.
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Messenger product manager Morgan Brown said: “These updates are part of our ongoing efforts to provide more transparency and help people better understand how our services work.
Facebook says that existing protection on the app, such as not using children’s personal data for advertising purposes, will remain unchanged.