Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Messenger Kids: What it is, how to set up your kid's account, and why my sons love it so much

A few weeks ago, Facebook launched Messenger Kids in the Philippines, and, boy, my two older boys are having tons of fun with it. It's really helped them connect with their friends and even make new ones (all friend requests are sent and approved by me!). That's why when Facebook sent me this press release and a fun cookie-decorating activity for the kids, I was more than happy to share with you.

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PRESS RELEASE - Messenger Kids is an app designed to allow kids ages 6 to 12 to have fun video chatting and messaging with friends and family in a parent-controlled environment. Parents in the Philippines will be able to download the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store today. 

Amber Hawkes, APAC Head of Safety, Facebook, says, “Through our work with the Stairway Foundation, the Child Rights Network, and other safety partners in the Philippines, we learned that many Filipino parents are looking for ways to help their children stay in touch with friends and family during this challenging time, in a fun and parent-supervised environment. We hope that Messenger Kids will help them to continue to find ways to have fun, create, and engage with friends and family.”  

Ace Diloy of the Stairway Foundation says, “In a pandemic, children are not able to explore and socialize with friends the way they used to. Experiencing change and restrictions in both learning and play is especially challenging for children. We are glad to see that Messenger Kids has been designed with built-in parental controls and safety in mind, and also fun features that are age-appropriate and encouraging children to stay connected even as they are staying physically apart. We shall continue working with Facebook to help make the platform safe for children.”

As many communities are managing the response to COVID-19, with schools closed and people practicing physical distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family, and looking to do so in a parent-controlled way. 

What it is:

Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that helps kids connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space. For years, Facebook has been working with a team of experts in online safety, child development, and media, to help shape the Messenger Kids app. Facebook also continues to consult child safety advocates and educators to ensure that the Messenger Kids app balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.

Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat. The home screen shows them at a glance who they are connected with to, and when those contacts are online.

Playful masks, emojis, and sound effects bring conversations to life.

In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app.

A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks, and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities.

Messenger Kids gives parents more control. Parents manage the contact list and have visibility into how their kids are using the app. Parents control kids’ accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard in their main Facebook iOS and Android app

What it's not:

It's not a social media platform where your kids can meet new people. So if your child is looking for friends, he'll have to get you to approve every person. There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases. Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).

How to set up a Messenger Kids account

Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent. 

Step 1: Download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s mobile device. Messenger Kids is available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Step 2: Authenticate your child’s device using your own Facebook username and password. This will create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.

Step 3: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where you’ll provide their name and opt-in to any additional features. The device can then be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with family and friends.

Step 4: To add people to your child’s contact list, go to the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on “More” on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section.

That's it! Now your kids have access to their friends and relatives and you get to see every photo and message they exchange. They can play games, join video chats, send funny photos - and you get to monitor everything! 

I am so happy my boys can spend time with their friends again in a safe environment. My sons aren't even feeling the quarantine anymore since they're always chatting with their friends after school (okay, that can be an issue so make sure you also monitor the time they spend on the app!). Thanks, Facebook, for the new Messenger Kids app. Oh, and for the cookie-decorating activity, too. My kids are having tons of fun!

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to frances@topazhorizon.com.

Monday, November 09, 2020

I'm 44!

I had a great birthday weekend and thank you all so much for the hundreds of well wishes over at Facebook and my DMs and Instagram! You guys! You made my 44th so happy. Thank you! 

I said on my birthday post on all my social media platforms that I was going to make myself pretty. I was going to put on makeup, blow out my hair, and put on a brightly colored dress because I want to document that my turning into a middle-aged woman (wait, I've been one since 4 years ago haha) is still oh so fantabulous. 

But motherhood happened. I was sleepy, my boys told me to nap nap nap, and so I did. And so this is 44 - chaotic, unshowered, hair in a messy pony, and TOTALLY LOVED!

Well, fine, I did draw on my eyebrows and swiped on lipstick so that I won't be too ugly haha but I'm 44 and I've learned that appearances may matter but I'm okay to let that be the first to go in exchange for a nap! And for hugs and kisses from the best little boys in the world!

Speaking of what I've learned, let me just quickly share with you 4 things I've realized now that I'm in my 40s.

1. Slow down. 

Maybe because I'm a mommy always telling my kids, "Slooooow down - you'll get into an accident. Gentle hands only so you won't break it. Take your time so you won't make mistakes. Slow and steady wins the race, guys." Maybe because I say those so often I've had to practice what I preach. 

I've mostly been setting goals since I was 13. I had planned on having all my dreams come true by the time I'm 30. And yep, they did. And you know what? It's not that big a deal after all. What do you do when you get everything you want and more and you're only 30? You set more and bigger goals. Well, that can be an endless pursuit of happiness that will forever elude you. 

So I slowed down instead, settled down, had babies. I opened myself up to what the world said I should try next and for the first time in my life, I started being generous with my life instead of taking from others. I just go with the flow now. It's much more fascinating and surprising, and oh so fulfilling.

2. Watch. Listen.

Oh, this was because of the 2016 elections. It's no secret I'm not happy with the current administration but we are a democracy so no matter what I feel and believe, I'm going to let this administration run its course. But to survive the disappointment, the shock, and the anger, I've learned to stop, watch, and listen. I won't yell at you anymore. I'll listen. 

Because of this, I've learned a lot about other people's lives and why they picked their choices. I may not be convinced they made the right choice - yes, even after all that observing and listening - but at least I can see where they're coming from. And really, it's a place of fear, anger, hate, and a feeling of being ignored for so long. That's why they wanted change, even if that change was for the worse for the nation as a whole. But individually, their lives improved or at least they felt seen and heard. For the first time, these people felt important. 

That's powerful. The lesson I took away from that is to make every single person count. Then their choices will be informed by validation, not by desperation.

(Blogged on Nov. 10, 2016: This is all our fault.)

3. I'm not important. 

I know that sounds terribly low self-esteem haha but if you at all know me, I have a really healthy self-image, to the point of conceit (at least that's how some people see my self-love). But the older I got, the more I understood that making my little self matter in this big world is not the point of my existence. What's more important is making this big world smaller so that no one ever feels little.

4. Love truly is the solution to everything.

It's my faith in God speaking. Or maybe my being a liberal hippie. Or maybe because I'm a writer and I truly believe in love, truth, beauty, and freedom. Maybe it's all of the above. You see, the older I've gotten and I've seen more of people and the world, the more I've learned that love soothes, comforts, heals, encourages, sustains, breaks through, lifts up, and changes every single thing in the world. Love for self, for others, for the planet. If we truly love, the world will be so much better.

I don't know why others grow old in hate, ignorance, and fear. I bless my age because it has given me wisdom and made me see that love solves every problem in the world. And it may look like there's so little of it now but if I just look, really look, and also pray (because it is not easy to love!), then there's so much love that I can give! 

And receive! Just look at my life! There's my dearest husband who has loved me for more than 20 years. There's our darling boys who shower me with hugs and kisses and the most honest conversations in my life. I have my family, my in-laws, my neighbors, my friends, and I have you! You who have stuck around even when I was so selfish and unlovable. It's all of you really, the reason why I've become a better person. 

Love is the answer to everything. It may have taken me 44 years to see that but I finally have. I am so grateful! 

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

My 5 steps to becoming a freelancer

Hi everyone! Just dropping by to share with you this video I made for my friend Ginger Arboleda's Love The Leap project. It's all about me sharing my 5 steps on how to become a freelancer. 

I gave this presentation to a Taxumo talk earlier this year (when the pandemic was just a murmuring in the shadows) and I decided I'd share it with my own dear Loyal Readers. Please watch it! I may be able to help you with my tips. I've heard from quite a lot of people that my seminars pushed them to take the leap and put up their own businesses. And let me tell you - they're more successful than me now! Wow! I'm so happy I was able to help so many people. I feel like my life is not a waste haha

Anyway, this is the very first video presentation I ever made. I was so stressed out haha. Do you think I can put up my own YouTube channel? I actually have a YT channel: Topaz Horizon. I only have my brand campaigns there because the brand required it, but there's really nothing there yet. If I start vlogging, what kind of videos would you like to watch? 

Okay, please watch the video I made for Ginger! And please tell me what you think! Thanks, everyone!