Facebook is basically always in the news for some privacy concern or another. In one such case, they—rightfully so—caught a lot of flak last summer when its Messenger Kids app inadvertently allowed kids to enter group chats with users their parents hadn’t approved. At the time, Facebook called it a “technical error” with the app, which is designed for kids under age 13.
If your kids were using the app at the time, you may have responded by simply deleting the thing. If you didn’t, though, you may be pleased to know that Facebook has announced the launch of some new tools in its Parent Dashboard that should make it easier to monitor your child’s chat history, remove and report inappropriate images or videos, and log them out remotely.
New features available in the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard
Recent contacts and chat history
You can see who your child is communicating with and how often, as well as whether they are sending messages or video chatting.
Here you can see the most recent photos and videos your child has sent and received in their inbox. You can remove any images or videos you determine to be inappropriate from the thread and report it.
Reported and blocked contacts history
See any messages your child has reported and who they have blocked or unblocked within the app. Parents will continue to be notified via Messenger if their child blocks or reports someone.
You can request a copy of your child’s Messenger Kids information, including a list of their contacts, messages, images and videos they have sent and received. (Note that your child will be notified through their app when you request this.)
Remote device logout
From the Parent Dashboard, you can see all devices where your child is logged in to Messenger Kids and you can log them out. (This feature is separate from the Sleep Mode feature that allows you to set when the app will go to sleep for the night.)
How to access the new features
Tap the shortcut menu in the Facebook app and scroll to the Messenger Kids icon. If you have multiple children using the app, select the name of the child whose account you’d like to access to view their individual information.
The way blocking works has also changed, Facebook says:
Kids can now unblock a blocked contact on their own if they want to restart one-on-one chats with them, and chats with blocked contacts will stay in the Messenger Kids inbox so parents can view them if they’d like. Kids and their blocked contacts will remain visible to one another and will stay in shared group chats, but will not be able to message each other individually. Kids will also receive a warning if they return to, or are added to, a group chat that includes a blocked contact, and can leave group chats at any time.
Parents remain in control of who their child is connected to in Messenger Kids and can remove people from their child’s contact list at any time.
It’s important to emphasise that this means they could still end up in a group chat with a blocked or unknown contact if they don’t chose to leave the group on their own.