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What is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication for Facebook users. Messenger lets users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website.

Like with any messaging application, children need to be mindful of who receives their messages, what those messages contain and how it could be used to hurt them. Communicating with someone not known to a child in real life, sharing personal information and/or putting an image of a child on any site could put them at risk for victimization. Here are potential hazards to consider:

  • People are anonymous and can pretend to be anyone else. There is no way of knowing that people you meet and are communicating with are who they say they are.
  • Potential offenders are versed in age-appropriate topics for children and can often convincingly make a child believe they understand the child like no one else
  • Once a child has a comfort level with an individual, he or she is likely to divulge personal information
  • Online relationships have a tendency to escalate quickly
  • Children can turn to establishing online relationships and neglect the real-life relationships they may have with family or friends
  • A child can become addicted or dependent on chatting online

The rules we tell children to follow when posting pictures online is to think before posting photos. The same goes for sharing photos via messaging services. Personal photos should not have revealing information, such as school names or locations. Look at the backgrounds of the pictures to make sure you are not giving out any identifying information without realizing it. The name of a mall, the license plate of your car, signs, or the name of your sports team on your jersey or clothing all contain information that can give your family's location away. Once and image or video is online it is very difficult to remove it completely.