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Facebook gives parents more control over children's use of messenger app

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

Parents will be able to see who their child is chatting with on Facebook's Messenger app among a slew of improved controls designed to better protect young people online.

The social network has announced several tools for its Messenger Kids platform, which first launched in 2017 as a more child-friendly way to communicate aimed at under-13s, controlled from a parent's main Facebook account.

The enhancements come after concerns were raised about the app last year, when a flaw on Messenger Kids meant children could have come into contact with people not approved by their parents.

Facebook said the Parent Dashboard feature will now allow guardians to see who their child is chatting with, whether they are video chatting or sending messages, as well as how frequently those conversations happened over the past 30 days.

Parents will also be able to see photos and videos both sent and received by the minor's account, with the ability to remove and report them.

If the young user has blocked or unblocked anyone, parents can access a full list, on top of the notification they already receive whenever a child blocks or reports someone.

In a bid to better educate under-13s, Facebook said it will start using "kid-appropriate language" to explain how their information is used and shared.

The social network reiterated that its existing protections, such as not using children's data from the app for advertising purposes, will remain unchanged.

"These updates are part of our ongoing efforts to provide more transparency and help people better understand how our services work," said Messenger product manager Morgan Brown.

"Parents will have 90 days to review and accept the new privacy policy and we strongly encourage them to review the updates with their kids."

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