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UK News

Christian charity concerned by Facebook's new app for kids

by Eno Adeogun

The new version of the social media's messenger app "Messenger Kids" will make it easier for children to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can't be together in person.

However, youngsters will need parental approval before they can use the app.

Katharine Hill, UK Director of Christian charity Care for the Family told Premier that while she welcomed Facebook addressing the issue of children using its app, there were issues the social media giant still needs to consider.

She explained: "I think there is a massive question over the whole idea of encouraging younger and younger children to spend more and more time glued to screens."

While the Facebook technically only allows children aged 13 to create profiles, lax prevention methods has resulted in more than 20 million under under-13-year-olds using the network, according to Consumer Reports.

Messenger Kids is being trialled in the US as a standalone app for a smartphone or tablet that is controlled from a parent's Facebook account and does not create a main Facebook profile for young users.

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The social network said the app was developed in consultation with parents and safety experts.

Hill whose latest book 'Left To Their Own Devices: Confident Parenting In A World of Screens' addressed concerns about youngsters using technology, told Premier Christian parents shouldn't stop children from using social media.

She said: "I think if we look at how God parents us, obviously there are some boundaries and clear guidelines in place but he wants us to use our freedom well.

"That's our goal as Christian parents - to teach our children to manage these things well.

"If we ban every screen from use in the home, sooner or later they're going to be in a playground and another child is going to have a phone without the adequate protection on it.

"We need to prepare our children for the day when we're not there and we do that gradually giving them more and more responsibility as they get older and we do it by talking about them and by spending time with them - putting those boundaries in place."

The app is currently only available in the US on Apple's iOS operating system.

Listen to Katharine Hill speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun:

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