Description: Basically, an instant messaging app brought to you by Facebook, with a few extras.
Category: Social Networking
APP Store rating: 4+ (although it doesn’t seem consistent. You can’t have a Messenger account without a Facebook account, which requires users to be 13)
Location Settings – by default, Facebook Messenger shows user location and informs the person receiving a message where the user was located when they sent their message. Not a great idea for children’s privacy. Good news – parents can turn off location services for this app in the privacy settings of your phone, to protect your child from divulging their location.
Sexting/Photo/Video Sharing – Messenger is no different than other messaging apps that encourage kids to share media (e.g., photos and videos) other than text. Make sure kids understand the immense risk that comes from sharing inappropriate media, which can lead to peer shaming, bullying, and legal issues related to child pornography.
Stickers, Emojis and GIFS – recent updates to the app allow kids to insert fun stickers, emojis and GIFs (looping, funny clips).
Web browsing – when web links are sent via Messenger, the receiver of the message doesn’t need to leave the Messenger app in order to browse the web. Unfortunately, while in the Messenger app, if using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, the web browsing performed in Google, Bing or Yahoo while still in Messenger does not obey any “limit adult content” settings that may have been set in the Restrictions.
When it comes to messaging apps, there are much safer options, like iMessage on an Apple device, or the simple texting on an Android device. Messenger should not be used by kids under age 13, in order to be consistent with Facebook’s own rules and due to the browsing risk mentioned above.