Messenger Kids – A Good Idea?

First of all, Facebook are launching Messenger Kids. Because giving kids access to Facebook is a great idea, right?

To help things be a little safer than you might first think, Facebook has outlined four steps parents can follow to enable their kids to chat. It’s as follows:

  1. Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the app store.
  2. Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child’s device using your own Facebook username and password. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.
  3. Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you’ll need to do is provide their name. Then the device can be handed to the child so they can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.
  4. Add contacts: To add people to your child’s approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on “More” on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section.

So, swings and roundabouts? Although at first it’s quite alarming thinking of young children chatting on Facebook, getting hooked on social media at such a young age and exposed to the dangers of talking to strangers online, Messenger Kids reduces and in most cases should remove some of those risks. The authentication process means that parents are in control of exactly who their child is talking to, and since it’s attached to your account, parents should have the option to stop this feature should they need to. Facebook has also mentioned that there are “proactive detection filters” to prevent children from sharing inappropriate content.

It does however beg the question, what happens to the child’s portion of the account when they reach the age of 13? Will this then prompt the child/parent to make a fully operational account? And let’s consider what happens to all that data too. Although Facebook have said that they won’t be using children’s activities on Messenger for ad targeting, it’s still going to be collected and used in some way…

Highlights And Archives

If you enjoy using Instagram Stories, you’re going to love the next two updates Instagram have announced. Now you will be able to both highlight and archive Stories that you post.

Story Highlights will be a selection of previous Stories you’ve chosen to be featured on your profile, just above your normal grid of photos. This is a great way to showcase some of your best work on Instagram to new followers who would have otherwise missed out on your old Stories.

You will also be able to archive your Stories – a great feature if you’re worried about storage space on your phone. Now, once you’ve uploaded a Story, when the 24 hours for public viewing is up it will be automatically saved to your archive. From there you can reshare to Highlights, DMs or if you wanted to, you could download them to your phone.

Highlights will be displayed at the top of your Instagram profile
Highlights will be displayed at the top of your Instagram profile

 

Direct – a new place to chat on Instagram

Instagram are also branching out and testing a new standalone app. Why? That’s not really clear. A lot of comparisons can be drawn between this new app, called Direct, and Snapchat. (Surprise surprise!)

Direct is currently being tested in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Uruguay currently, with plans to roll out globally next year.

Similar to Snapchat, upon opening the app you’ll be taken straight to the camera, where you can then swipe to reach your Instagram inbox, and send photos/videos with AR filters added to them, to friends.

I think that the reason for separating out the inbox to a standalone app is to help simplify the Instagram experience. The app, in recent months especially, has become quite cluttered – and now more so with the addition of Highlights on your profile. To stop Instagram becoming over complicated, I think that this new app will ensure that Instagram itself is seen as a way to broadcast and share to your audience, whereas Direct will be just that – a direct method of communicating amongst friends privately. It takes away the overlap.

What do you think about Instagram’s changes this year?