Parents' Guide to

Messenger Kids

By Christine Elgersma, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Facebook-created app appeals to kids but collects data.

Messenger Kids Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this app.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 7+

Has a place

We downloaded this app for my daughter when her best friend moved across the country. She is too young to have her own phone but has a kindle fire and we wanted to find a way for her and her friend, as well as family abroad to have their own way of chatting. It’s similar to WhatsApp but totally supervised. Every word and picture can be seen by the parent and any return messages brings up an alert for the parent. All contacts have to be approved by the parent. And what a wonderful opportunity to start conversations and educating a child about the world of social media, safe and unsafe practices, rules, do’s and dont’s and even the data collection from Facebook is a big talking point. It’s inevitable our children will end up entering the world of social media and this is a great training tool and an opportunity to ease them into it and educate, educate, educate. It also delays the inevitable ‘real’ social media world as it ‘satisfies’ a desire to be part of something.
1 person found this helpful.
age 8+

It's nice to be able to talk to my nephews easily.

It's a nice app to have. The people complaining about data collection and privacy also had to sign in with a personal account and give there location.. if you don't like that then don't use social media but your data is still going to be collected in other ways, it sucks but that's not going to change. My only complaint with this is that I can't send funny random gifs to my nephews which would be the main reason I'd use it. So besides being able to say hey this app is pretty pointless. If they have a phone they can text. Seems like this app would be good for kids 8-13ish. It's already made so only approved people can chat so just make it so you can send gifs, family isn't going to be sending the kids anything inappropriate
1 person found this helpful.

Privacy Rating Warning

  • Personal information is not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.
  • Unclear whether data are collected by third-parties for their own purposes.
  • User's information is used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for personalised advertisements.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (36 ):

Approving all contacts in a kid-safe messaging app sounds appealing, but there's probably more to consider. Messenger Kids has all the fun features that tweens can't wait to use: live photo filters like Snapchat, video chatting, GIFs, and more. And since parents get to approve and add all of the contacts, it's relatively low-risk in terms of chatting with strangers or encountering really iffy content. That said, there are other things to consider. There's a missed opportunity to help kids navigate social media safely and help them learn to be good digital citizens: There's a brief "activity" that uses simple language to explain how kids' data is shared, but there's nothing about how to interact once you're in the app. With a few reminders to be kind, think before they post, and know how to block people, Messenger Kids could help get kids ready for teen social media use. And in terms of content, it's important to note that kids -- and their contacts -- can take pictures of anything, download photos and videos to their camera roll, and share them, so there's no guarantee that everything shared will be kid-appropriate.

As for the bigger picture, because Facebook states that it collects and stores the content of the messages sent by kids and also monitors their app usage (like who your kid contacts most), there are some concerning questions around exactly what happens to that data and how secure it is. Also, it's no secret that Facebook is in direct competition with Snapchat, which is snapping up lots of younger users, so assuming that they're trying to hook kids early and eventually convert them into full Facebook users isn't much of a stretch. Along those lines -- and considering how many kid-safe messaging apps have come and gone -- ultimately, kids will want to be where the cool teens are, so it's unclear whether the alternatives will ever really gain enough users to make them fun. Finally, the bigger question for parents is how early we want our kids to start using messengers, kid-safe or not: If they're used as training wheels with lots of parent interaction and discussion, there could be some benefit in getting kids ready for the full-fledged social apps. But there's also an argument for keeping kids -- and their data -- out of the mixed-bag world of social media entirely until they're ready for its challenges.

App Details

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