Facebook Home and Your Kids: What You Need to Know

What Does Facebook Home Mean For Your Kids?What Does Facebook Home Mean For Your Kids?By Ingrid Simone, Common Sense Media editor

If your teen has one of the handful of Android phones that support Facebook Home, you may be wondering what it's all about. For teens as into Facebook as the average teenager is, Facebook Home will primarily make communicating with Facebook friends a more engaging experience. But what does it really mean for your kids' lives?

What's the appeal?
Facebook Home integrates Facebook into your kid's smartphone, providing an "always on" social experience. The two main ways are through the "cover feed" and messaging. The cover feed will let teens see status updates, photos, and more from their Facebook news feed -- just by looking at the home screen of their phone. They don't need to open an app to see what's going on with their friends, or even to interact with them. And when their friends want to chat or send them a text message, a "chat head" will pop onto their screen, grabbing their attention -- even if they're in another app.

Is there a downside?
Facebook Home will be an ever-present distraction. As your teen's engagement with friends via Facebook goes up, engagement in the real world can go down. Facebook does a good job illustrating this in its own ad.

Facebook says Facebook Home is "designed to put friends above everything else." So, is this a good thing for teens who want to stay connected to their friends? Or will it make it more difficult for teens to experience meaningful connections with friends and family face to face? Tell us what you think.

Facebook Home basics
Not sure what Facebook Home is? You can read more in our review by Dana Villamagna, whose teen daughter lives on Facebook. But here are the basics:

  • The full Facebook Home experience is really a combination of three free apps: Facebook Home, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger. With these apps, Facebook Home serves as a new skin for your Android phone, an app launcher, and a messaging/communication tool.
  • When you install Facebook Home, you'll change the way you interact with your phone.

Cover Feed

  • Your Facebook news feed appears as an interactive home screen called a cover feed.
  • On the cover feed, photos and posts from your friends and pages you've "liked" constantly scroll across your phone.
  • You can interact with the screen to like posts and leave comments (or read others' comments).
  • Your cover feed has your profile photo on the bottom of the screen. Tap and slide left, up, or right to access messaging, apps, or the last app you used, respectively. Swiping up from your profile photo also takes you to quick options for updating your status, posting a photo, or checking in.

App Launcher

  • From your cover feed, tap your profile photo and slide up for the app launcher.
  • You can get to all of your apps, but it might take a couple of extra steps than it did before.
  • The app launcher doesn't support widgets or folder creation.

Facebook Messenger

  • Chat heads pop up when friends send you Facebook messages or text messages.
  • You don't have to move in and out of apps to receive messages and reply to them.

If you don't like it, or if you just want a break, you can turn Facebook Home off -- or uninstall the app.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsensemedia.org.