Children under the age of 13 now have their own Facebook Messenger with a privacy-focused app designed to neutralise child predator threats and make it easier for children to video chat and message with family and friends.
The preview of the app was rolled out this Monday in the US. According to the company’s statement, the app which is a first of its kind on any social media came from interactions with thousands of parents, associations and parenting experts in the US.
“To give kids and parents a fun, safer solution, we built Messenger Kids, a standalone that lives on kids’ tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook account,” said Loren Cheng, Product Managing Director for Messenger Kids. “Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.”
Parents would have some approvals to grant on the Messenger Kids. For instance, the account can only be set up by a parent and if two children want to be friends on Messenger Kids, parents of each child would have to give the go-ahead. Once that is done, the friends can do live chat, send pictures and text to each other.
Adults that are approved on the apps can also contact the children through the Messenger Kids; however they will get their message through the normal Facebook Messenger app.
Parents fully control the contact list and kids cannot connect with contacts that their parent does not approve. Parents control kids account and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel in their main Facebook app.
The app also comes with a catalogue of appropriate kid GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools that lets the children decorate content and express their personalities.
“Today, parents are increasingly allowing their children to use tablets and smartphones, but often have questions and concerns about how their kids use them and which apps are appropriate. So when we heard about the need for apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking,” Cheng said.
The preview app is available on the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. Facebook said users on the Amazon App Store and Android will be able to download the app in the “coming months.”