“Messenger Kids” is Facebook’s way of saying how much it wants kids below the age of 13 to feel protected when chatting with their friends. The social networking giant rolled out by Facebook today is available on iOS in the US.
Parents will have to download and install the app on their child’s phone, create a unique profile for them, and of course, approve friends and family that they can chat and video chat with within the app.
“Today, in the US, we’re rolling out a preview of Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person,” Facebook’s Loren Cheng, Product Management Director wrote.
Facebook Kids was borne out of the need to create a different platform for kids who by the way are not allowed to sign up on either Facebook or Messenger. The app was designed following feedback the company got from interest groups including parents, the National PTA, and parenting experts across the US.
“To give kids and parents a fun, safer solution, we built Messenger Kids, a standalone app that lives on kids’ tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent’s Facebook account,” Cheng adds.
Parents who download and install the app to their kid’s phone or tablet will have to authenticate Messenger Kids with their Facebook account. From there they can go ahead and set up a mini-profile with phots and name of their kids. To approve anyone who’s friends with their kids, parents will use the Messenger Kids bookmark in the main Facebook app.
Since Facebook’s policy does not allow kids to sign up on the platform, how would your child find someone to chat with? That has been taken care of—you [parent] will have to friend the parent of the child your child wants to chat with to get started. Ultimately everything revolves around a parent’s approval—and this is quite understandable considering the vulnerability of children.
Getting started with Messenger Kids:
- Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store.
- Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child’s device using your own Facebook username and password. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.
- Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you’ll need to do is provide their name. Then the device can be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.
- Add contacts: To add people to your child’s approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on “More” on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section.
Facebook says there are no ads in Messenger Kids, and there are no in-app purchases.