But on Monday, Facebook introduced an app, called Messenger Kids, that is targeted to that age group and asks parents to give their approval so children can message, add filters and doodle on photos they send to one another.
"While we appreciate Facebook taking steps to protect this vulnerable population by including parental controls, establishing an ad-free environment, and restricting some data collection, we remain concerned about where sensitive information collected through this app could end up and for what objective it could be used", they wrote.
Just as vocal are parents such as Parker Thompson of Alameda, California, who said children's adoption of technology is an inevitability and who appreciated Facebook's approach with the new app.
Facebook said Messenger Kids won't show ads or collect data for marketing, though it will collect some data it says are necessary to run the service. The app has so far only been released for Apple's iOS operating system, for use on iPads, iPhones and the iPod touch.
For the first time, Facebook is opening up to children under age 13 with a privacy-focused app created to neutralize child predator threats that plague youth-focused competitors like Snapchat. This means parents would not have to worry about their children talking with strangers online, without their supervision.
But she added that services like the new messenger app need to be monitored.
Fortunately, family members and relatives do not need to download the same Messenger Kids app in order to chat with the toddlers. Facebook is indeed coming for your kids. "In other apps, they can contact anyone they want or be contacted by anyone", Facebook's head of Messenger David Marcus notes. "Kid-appropriate" emoji, masks, and sound effects are also included in the app.
"Why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?" So, parents can get full access on Facebook, while their children can befriend them on Messenger Kids and even play together. After this, the device can be handed back to the child, and they can start chatting by using Messenger Kids. As The Verge pointed out, we don't know how Facebook-which aggregates data on a massive scale across its social platforms-will monetize Messenger Kids sans ads or use the data it collects on this next generation of users.
While Facebook said in the briefing that the app was designed for kids age 6 to 12, younger kids are allowed on, too. "We appreciate that for now, the product is ad-free and appears created to put parents in control".
The senators want proof that Facebook is complying with Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a Federal Trade Commission regulation that imposes rules on collecting data from children under 13 on the internet.
This preview of Messenger Kids is only available in the United States at this time on the Apple App Store, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.
"After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the USA, 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". No endorsement is implied.
National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service.