Facebook Messenger Kids: Awesome Sauce or Kid Coke?

Facebook released a children-focused messenger app yesterday. Their official press release is worth reading, especially if you’re considering allowing your children to use this service.

Here are my early opinions. Please note, these are opinions, and they may change over time. But this is a big move for the world’s biggest social network, and I felt the need to throw out these opinions in the hopes that they help with usage decisions.

  1. Security: I’m 100% sure that Facebook is going to do everything they can to keep kids safe while using this service. Facebook’s considerable resources should be able to respond when security incidents occur.
  2. Privacy and Control: The draw of the app is that parents can set up connection lists and check activity easily. And because parents can control this access through their own Facebook app, it should cut down on unwanted contact additions.
  3. Usage: The app was just announced, and right now it’s only available for iThingys. Android coming soon. So, not sure about usage, but it does look like Facebook did their homework. They worked with child development specialists, made a fun interface, and it should be easy for kids and parents to use.

So far, so positive, right? Yep. Except for one big potential red flag.

Facebook is by far the biggest social network on the planet. They have over 1.5 billion active monthly users. They also own the 2nd and 7th largest Social Media platforms (WhatsApp and Instagram, respectively).

Facebook is a public company, which means that shareholders demand growth and profitability. And this comes at a time when teenagers are abandoning Facebook in favor of other social platforms like Snapchat.

I don’t mind that a big company is trying to get bigger. But, there is a part of me that is saying “Hmmm.” This, to me, looks like a really well designed hook. It’s a chance for Facebook to redouble parent’s Facebook app usage at the same time as converting 6-13 year olds to the Facebook interface.

Heck, if families end up using this, it’s potentially a way to capture usage from every age group, as kids, teens, parents and grandparents all start using Facebook as their messaging default.

It’s brilliant, really. And time will tell if this helps them keep and expand their base.

Time will indeed tell.

 

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