Kids are going to communicate online. Facebook wants parents to feel confident they are safe when doing so.
Social media is not going away. It’s the way we communicate and it’s the way our kids communicate. So it makes sense that Facebook is rolling out a new app, Messenger Kids, that’s meant to facilitate safe video chats and messaging between kids, friends and family members—while keeping mom and dad in the loop from another device.
According to Facebook’s terms of service, kids under 13 aren’t allowed to have their own profiles. But the social media giant found a savvy way around that: Messenger Kids is a standalone app that can be loaded on a child’s device, but is controlled through a parent’s Facebook account. Basically, it’s an extension for mom or dad’s Facebook account, not an account for kids.
Although the parents can’t actually see the kids’ conversations, there are some vital safety protections. For one, the app gives parents control of a kid’s contact list so the minors can’t connect with somebody who’s not been approved by a parent. Messenger Kids users aren’t searchable, either.
According to TechCrunch, the Messenger Kids app also includes safety features that prevent kids from sharing sexually explicit or violent content. On top of that, Facebook has a dedicated support team to respond to flagged content in the program.
As for the fun part: Messenger Kids has a bunch of fun features, such as Snapchat-style mask filters and kid-friendly GIF libraries.
It was only launched on Monday, but the app is already facing criticism from some experts who warn too much social media and screen time isn’t good for kid’s development.
For some families though, the app is a welcome addition to their digital devices and a safer way for kids to experience social media without lying about their age when making a profile.
Right now Messenger Kids is only available in America and on iOS devices, but an Android version is expected soon.