AoP Tech Parent January 2018

Tech News, Support, and Information for AoP Parents!

Yay or Nay? Facebook Messenger Kds

by Ms. Alissa DeVito, Associate Director of Educational Technology

I knew something must be happening in the tech world when my phone started buzzing with messages from teachers, parents, AND techies. Last month, Facebook released Messenger Kids, a messaging app aimed at children ages 6-12. By the end of release day, I had received a flood of questions about this new app: Is it safe? Should I download it? Why does a six-year-old need a messaging app? AoP Tech is here to break it down for you!

The Basics: The new Messenger Kids does not require kids to sign up for a Facebook account. Instead, kids are registered via a parent’s accounting using their first and last name. Parents must approve the child’s contacts before there is any interaction and any other children in the app must be signed up via their parent’s account. Currently, this app is available for iOS devices with an Android version in the works. Stickers, gifs, and fun messaging features are all included to draw kids in.

The Uses: Facebook sees this as a way for kids to interact with family members or peers without having social media accounts themselves (since most social media apps have an age requirement of 13). Facebook views Messenger Kids as a “gift to parents” as it is easy to monitor what messages their children are sending, and to whom, than if their kids lied about age to create a Facebook account.

The Concerns: As with any tool for use with children, privacy is the biggest concern. Messenger Kids is COPPA compliant (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) as it does not sell data for advertising purposes. There are no advertisements in Messenger for Kids. However, Facebook will collect data from the app - including messages, photos, and information about the device being used - for possible 3rd party use to “improve the platform”. Facebook has not made it clear how they will monetize the app or their exact plans for the data collected.

And a verdict? That’s up to you! While Messenger Kids does not have a place in the classroom curriculum, parents may opt into a service such as this. As always, it important for us as educators and parents to stay on top of what our children are doing online and on their devices. Many kids and parents alike are already using iMessage, FaceTime, Duo, or Hangouts for communication with family and friends. If nothing else, the introduction of Messenger Kids makes us pause and consider what’s best for kids.

Share your thoughts on the new Messenger Kids by tweeting us @aoptech!

A Message from Mr. William Brannick, Director of Technology

Happy New Year!

As we have quickly found ourselves turning the calendar to 2018 I hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful Advent and Christmas season! In reflection, the month of December and the days surrounding Christmas certainly have the ability to be a blur. Knowing that in many of our families new technology was provided as a gift, don’t let too much time pass without establishing ground rules for how the new tools will be utilized within your home!

The allure of a new tech tool can draw excitement and prolonged engagement. It may be a child’s first cell phone, a new tablet, Chromebook or laptop, or maybe that new smart speaker that has been on your list for some time! Whatever the new tech tool may be, make sure that it fills a role within your household and does not consume the members of your family.

The AoPTech team encourages you, as parents, to reflect on the following:

  • Set guidelines for when and where screens are allowed.

    • Limit devices to supervised areas.

  • Set media-free zones and times within the household.

    • Establish a device-free dinner policy.

  • Set a good example.

    • Our children will often look to us on how to use technology. Promote healthy habits with technology at home and on-the-go.

  • Establish guidelines across households.

    • Talk with other parents to set clear expectations for when your child has friends over, or when your child visits friends.

Technology is able to provide us with a wonderful benefit in our lives when balanced properly. Setting expectations now will assist your family in developing healthy habits for tech use in years to come!

For additional parent resources, please visit: For additional recommendations on managing screen time at home, please visit our Screen Time Guide on Explore AoPS.

Have a wonderful 2018!

AoP Tech Team

Bill Brannick, Director of Technology

Alissa DeVito, Associate Director of Educational Technology

Aaron Heintz, Technology Integration Coach

Annabel Dotzman, Technology Integration Coach