Tech: Facebook just added an important parental control feature to its controversial kids app (FB)

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Parents will be able to activate a "sleep mode" that prevents kids from using the app at certain times.

  • Facebook Messenger Kids is getting "sleep mode," which lets parents choose which times their children can use the app.
  • Messenger Kids has been met with backlash since it was introduced last year, with heath experts calling on the social media giant to shut the app down completely.

Messenger Kids, Facebook's messaging app aimed at children between the ages of six-12, is getting a major parental control feature.

The company announced Friday that parents will now be able to activate "sleep mode," which prevents children from using the app at certain times. A parent could, for example, choose put the app in "sleep mode" during bedtime, dinner, or homework time.

Messenger Kids already lets parents see their child's messages and control their contact list, but Tarunya Govindarajan, a Facebook product manager, wrote in a blog post that parents had been asking for more control. The app itself only lets children send messages, photos and videos. It doesn't have many of the features of a regular Facebook account, such as a News Feed, a "like" button, or advertising.

Since Facebook introduced the app in December last year, it has been met with backlash from health experts and child advocates, who have called on the app to be shut down completely. In a letter to Facebook in January, a group of more than 100 organizations and health professionals warned that children under 13 using the app could "undermine children’s healthy development."

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