Facebook Home

Common Sense Media says

Slightly clumsy app puts FB front and center, all the time.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Facebook Home is very easy to use in some ways, and in other ways it makes using your smart phone more complicated and slow. On the plus side, especially for heavy Facebook users, there's no need to open an app to use Facebook; your news feed is now your phone's main screen. Also, Facebook messaging and basic texting are essentially combined and can be easily accessed on the main page as well as while using other apps by tapping on the "chat heads" that pop up within the app you're using. On the downside, making phone calls and accessing any other, non-Facebook apps that you use isn't as quick and easy. You have to drill down past the cover feed to access the phone keypad. During this review (on a Samsung Galaxy SIII) to transition from the cover feed to the phone keypad and to other apps, the phone backed out of the cover feed page to the password-protected screen and then the phone's password had to be entered before moving forward to an app or the phone.  

Facebook Home modifies your contacts list, displaying it in a very new way, categorized in a Facebook style-like friends list. This looks quite confusing at first, but users would probably get used to that over time. Most bothersome, most all of the phone's functions operated a little more slowly after Facebook Home was installed. The app doesn't support widgets or folders.

Violence

Content that teens post on Facebook view is highly based on who their Facebook friends are and what they post. Since Facebook is based on user-submitted content, the information and images can include a vast array of topics, some of which may be considered too graphic for non-adult viewers. Also, some teen-to-teen online bullying has been known to occur via Facebook, although the site has made efforts to discourage bullying.

Sex

Content that teens post on Facebook view is highly based on who their Facebook friends are and what they post. User-submitted content sometimes includes photos and language that are sexually suggestive. Nudity is prohibited according to Facebook's legal terms.

Language

Content that teens post on Facebook view is highly based on who their Facebook friends are and what they post. There is no language filter. 

Consumerism

Currently ads don't appear on Facebook Home's cover feed, but there are reports that ads will appear there in the future. If a friend posts a sponsored ad or you like a business or organization, their posts (some of which clearly are ads in a different form) will appear with every other item from your news feed on your phone's cover feed. Some ads encourage users to shop online stores, join dating sites, and "like" various pages to get free samples or other offers. But potential buyer beware: "Like" or otherwise interact with a social ad, and your action could be shown alongside the company's message -- and your profile may appear, too. Advertisers also use info about what you and your friends like to determine which ads you'll see when you're on the site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Facebook's platform policies for developers/app creators include language about prohibiting content that promotes the sale of tobacco, firearms, or alcohol-related content (unless they've set parameters to prevent users who are under 21 from seeing the content). However, users can post alcohol references or photos on personal pages; some drug-related pages on legalizing marijuana and other topics also exist.

Privacy & safety

The broad permissions users grant to Facebook when installing Facebook Home are enough to make users think twice about installing this app. Among many other permissions, users give permission for Facebook Home to record audio and take photos and video "at any time without your confirmation," and "modify contacts and data about contacts "including frequency with which you've called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific contacts." Clearly, in order to function as a phone's basic launcher, main page, and gateway into all of the smart phone's other applications, Facebook has to have this sort of broad and deep access to users' stuff on the phone. Still, it's concerning, especially considering Facebook's frequent changes to privacy settings and terms. Users should check their privacy settings frequently; changes are common, so it's important to keep tabs on what is and isn't visible to others.

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Emotional Development

  • perspective taking
  • self-awareness

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Responsibility & Ethics

  • embracing differences
  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Highly engaging -- perhaps too engaging -- since Facebook Home could become a major distraction for teens. With chat heads, teens can message during phone calls, videos, while using apps, anytime. 

Learning Approach

Teens learn to communicate with each other in an online social networking environment, and they learn how to manage multiple forms of expression using one central method of communication, Facebook.

Support

Facebook's website includes a lot of information and tutorials about Facebook Home, and the app itself provides users with some detailed information about posts, contacts, and usage.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Emotional Development

  • perspective taking
  • self-awareness

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression

Responsibility & Ethics

  • embracing differences
  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Teens can learn how mobile social networking blends with their smartphone's other capabilities on Facebook Home. If used wisely and with guidance, this app can help teens express themselves to friends, build friendships, and learn how to organize their smartphone-based communication in a new, streamlined way. Teens will need to practice a lot of self-awareness and wise decision-making to make sure the constant communication stream on Facebook Home doesn't drive them to distraction.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

 

Families can talk 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.

App details

Device:Android
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

This review of Facebook Home was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Kid, 12 years old May 5, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

FACEBOOK OFFICIAL REVIEW

I think Facebook is a great way for everyone to communicate all over the wold! But there are also a lot of dangerous people online that can harm you. If you use Facebook safely, you will learn a lot of stuff
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Parent Written by915071 May 8, 2013
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

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