Facebook has started rolling out a new version of its instant messaging app designed primarily for children under age 13. The app called Messenger Kids is meant for children to have a safe and fun chat with their family and friends on the social network. The app doesn’t require the child to create a Facebook account, instead, it enables parents to manage their child’s Messenger app via their Facebook account.
For this, parents just need to download the app on their child’s phone or tablet, authenticate the device by using their own Facebook username and password, create a profile name for the kid and approve friends and family in the contact list with whom the child can text or video chat from the Messenger app.
The standalone app for kids is designed in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) that protects underage children from being exploited online.
The Messenger Kids app include playful masks, emojis and sound effects to make conversations more interesting and fun for kids. There are safety filters and kid-friendly version GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and tools that will let children ‘decorate content and express their personalities’, Facebook says in its blog post.
Interestingly, kids cannot be found through Facebook search even if their profiles are created, thereby protecting their safety. Further, if they want to chat with their friends, their parents will first have to friend that kid’s parent which will then show the option to approve that child’s parent (adult) as a contact for their own kid. Oh boy!
While this initiative from Facebook appears to be a bit bland to begin with, parents’ control over the kid’s contact list and approval might save kids from being harassed by online predators to an extent.
Facebook is rolling out a preview of this app on the iOS platform only in the US as of now. However, the company has announced that it will push the app to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.