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Teens connect instantly to contacts; best with guidance.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Easy instructions for first-time users. Messenger is generally easy to use, although the chat heads that pop up on the mobile device can be confusing and distracting. The icons clearly show all the text and voice options, and the app quickly uploads photos, shows contacts, and provides many options for alerts. 


Content is highly based on who your friends are. Also, some teen-to-teen online bullying has been known to occur via Facebook, although the site has made efforts to discourage this.


Content of messages is highly based on who your contacts are.


Content of messages is highly based on who your contacts are. There's no language filter. 


Stickers in the sticker store and connected apps in the Messenger App Store were all free at the time of this review, but since they must each be downloaded individually, paid content could be featured in the future. Businesses on Messenger is "coming soon" in 2015 and will allow conversations between businesses and consumers; the contact is predicted to be customer-instigated, but it's possible it will evolve into other forms of contact.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Content of messages is highly based on who your contacts are. Kids can send messages about drinking, drugs, or smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Messenger lets users text, voice-message, send video or photos instantly, or call contacts from their mobile devices. They also can use third-party apps, such as Messenger-specific versions of Talking Tom, JibJab, or dozens of others to send short videos, GIFs, or other creations. Users' phones make a sound or light notification when they get a message, and users can see when someone else has viewed the messages they send. Notifications can be turned off, but the user remains logged in. Users can send messages to individuals privately or to groups they've created. Unless the location notification is turned off, anyone who receives a message can see on a map where the sender is. The app is updated every couple of weeks. Even without a Facebook account, users can sign up for Messenger and add contacts by entering phone numbers.

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What's it about?

View your list of contacts on MESSENGER to see who has the app and who is active. Tap the person you want to contact, and a screen appears that includes your most recent conversations with that person, as well as messaging options. Tap one of the messaging options (for example, the phone icon to make a phone call) and create and send a message. Options on the main screen include creating and pinning groups and customizing settings. This is an all-in-one app for Facebook users who want many ways to communicate with immediacy. Third-party apps are available for downloading, content creation, and sharing. It also works without a Facebook account, so users can provide a name, phone number, and photo to log in.

Is it any good?


Messenger provides the instant connection that most teens want and expect from social media -- which is missing from the original Facebook app now that messaging is being phased outIt also gives the options to share photos with only one contact, send videos, make a traditional voice-to-voice phone call (although the quality of the call during this review wasn't stellar), send GIFs, or send an in-app voice message, similar to other messaging apps such as WhatsApp. The Chat Head photo icons that appear on users' mobile devices' main screens to indicate an incoming message or ongoing conversation can be distracting, but there are a few options to limit or turn them off, and they aren't as intrusive as Facebook Home. Notifications, camera access, and location information can be disabled.

The sticker "store" includes cute animated stickers for sending, and the app store within Messenger includes dozens of apps that users can use to send GIFs and short animations directly from Messenger itself. These all must be downloaded before use and are not available by default. Users also can access their friends' Facebook Timelines. Parents may want to remind teens using this app to turn off the location feature, which otherwise sends their location to anyone they message. In addition, the same privacy concerns that exist with Facebook exist in Messenger, so review the frequently updated privacy policy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about teens and social media. To understand why the immediacy of messaging apps such as Messenger is appealing to teens, read Common Sense Media's report "Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives."

  • Talk with your teens about how the constant interruptions of, for example, Chat Heads may affect their concentration during studying and other times when focus is needed, and recommend that they use the settings to minimize distraction.

  • Read Common Sense Media's Social Networking Tips for safety recommendations, and advise your teen to turn off location sharing on Messenger

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows Phone
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:May 13, 2014
Category:Social Networking
Size:36.80 MB
Publisher:Facebook Inc.
Minimum software requirements:iOS 6.0 or later; Android varies with device.

This review of Messenger was written by

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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.

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Kid, 11 years old October 28, 2014


The camera on your phone watches you and it can hack
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 15 years old Written byMavrah333 May 13, 2015

Easy to use app is one of the best ways to talk, although on my cheap phone it lags a lot. Performance standards will depend on your device.

What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Too much swearing


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