A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Facebook Home puts Facebook at the center of your teen's smart phone and demotes any other apps, texting, and calling capabilities to less visible spots on the device. Teens who are heavy Facebook users will probably love this app because their Facebook account's news feed becomes the phone's launch screen. Now called the cover feed, the main screen also includes a little bubble with the user's profile photo at the screen's bottom center. Turn on the phone, and posts from Facebook friends (and the user's own posts) begin to appear, then pan across the screen for a few seconds, and then another post, and another. Teens can like or comment on a post directly from the cover feed. They can also easily post their own status updates, photos, or check in simply by swiping their chat head upward.
Facebook essentially becomes the focal point of a teen's phone if Facebook Home users also download Facebook Messenger, which combines texting and Facebook messaging in the form of "chat heads." Chat heads are used to send and receive Facebook messages and texts anytime, including while using other apps. Teens can still access the phone, traditional texting, and all other apps, but it requires an extra step or two. Currently, Facebook Home is only available to install on a few Android-based smart phones, and comes pre-installed on the HTC First. Parent should note that users can adjust their data use setting to high, medium, or low -- this is a key factor to consider for phones with limited data plans.
What's it about?
Install FACEBOOK HOME and posts from your Facebook news feed begin to appear and pan across your screen in what's called the cover feed. Tap and hold to view longer, or tap twice to like a post. Tap on the comment icon to comment. You can also swipe left and right to browse your cover feed. Your Facebook profile photo also appears on the cover feed. Tap it and swipe up to access your app launcher, as well as options to post status updates, photos, or check in. From there you can swipe right or left to see more of your apps. From the cover feed, you can also tap the profile picture and swipe left to access the messenger/texting option, or right to go to your most recently used app.
Is it any good?
Facebook Home's constant onslaught of images and posts may drive teens' level of everyday distraction to new heights, depending on how often they look at their phone. Practically speaking, the app has a lot of bugs and annoyances to work out before it can be considered a sure-fire improvement in smart phone navigation. Clearly, Facebook Home pushes users to switch to Facebook for almost all their smart phone communication -- and sometimes that push comes at the expense of ease of access to other phone features. Still, for teens, Facebook Home may seem like a natural fit, organizing how they already use their phone in a more efficient way. They don't have to seek out the Facebook app to post a status update, then switch to texting when a message arrives, or leave another app when they want to send a text message to a friend.
Families debating the use of Facebook Home will want to consider whether this streamlined approach could be a positive development for how social networking fits into teens' lives, or does it decrease opportunities to make conscious choices about how teens communicate, with whom, and when? One potential positive for parents: Since the cover feed appears anytime the phone is checked, and it shows anything that posts on the user's Facebook news feed, parents of teens who use Facebook Home may get more glimpses of what's going on in their Facebook lives -- what they and their friends are posting -- simply by being nearby.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk to your teen about the pros and cons of the Facebook website or app vs. Facebook Home. Help them brainstorm strategies for avoiding too much distraction if they use Facebook Home.
Read Common Sense Media's Teens on Social Media report to find out why social media is such a big part of your teen's life.
- Device: Android
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, global awareness
- Skills: Responsibility & Ethics: embracing differences, following codes of conduct, making wise decisions, respect for others
Communication: conveying messages effectively, friendship building, multiple forms of expression
Tech Skills: social media
Emotional Development: perspective taking, self-awareness
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: April 12, 2013
- Category: Social Networking
- Size: 258.00 MB
- Publisher: Facebook Inc.
- Version: 1.0
- Minimum software requirements: Android 4.0 and up
For kids who love to express themselves
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.