In a blog post, Facebook today announced the addition of Messenger Kids to its lineup of mobile apps. With the app, parents can have much more control over who their kids talk to and allow them to communicate with contacts who are on Facebook without actually signing up for the service. In fact, all you need is your child’s name to use the app.
“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,” said Loren Cheng, product management director at Facebook. “So when we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside with the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking.”
Cheng notes Facebook has had conversations with organizations like National PTA and Blue Star Families in order to get an idea of how parents control their kids’ digital habits in this ever-connected world. “After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the US, we found that there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want,” Cheng said.
Hence Messenger Kids. The app is filled with kid-friendly features like fun masks, drawing tools, and stickers for editing and sending photos, video calling, and messaging. The best part? All of these features are only available for kids who have a designated set of contacts by their parents. So if your child wants to talk to the kid across the street on Messenger Kids, you’ll need to manually add him/her to their list of contacts before they can do so. You have a lot of say over who your kids connect with thanks to Messenger Kids so you won’t have to worry about online predators or anything similar.
To get started with the app, you download it to your device, sign into your Facebook account (don’t worry, your kids won’t be able to actually access your account by doing this), create a profile for your kid under his/her name, and add contacts to their list such as their grandparents or yourself. Facebook says there’s no ads in the app, it’s completely free to use, there’s no in-app purchases, and your child’s information isn’t used for other purposes other than to identify profiles under your Facebook account.
All parental controls for Messenger Kids can be found through the main Facebook app, by the way.
If you’re interested in setting this up for your kids, you’ll need to have an iOS device to do so in the meantime as Facebook says Messenger Kids is still in preview stages and will reach the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store in the coming months.
You can download Messenger Kids for free here.