Facebook rolls out kids version of Messenger

Posted December 05, 2017

Parents can use their main Facebook app to control kids accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel.

For starters, Messenger Kids doesn't require the creation of a Facebook account - instead, parents will create a Messenger Kids account for their child using their own Facebook account.

Messenger for Kids launched Monday and is now only available through the Apple App Store, with Amazon and Google Play appearing "in the coming months", the Facebook press release said. Messenger Kids users can do numerous same things users of the regular Messenger app can do - send text-based messages, video chat, tack on virtual stickers and face masks - but with stricter rules and parental controls in place.

Your child will only be able to chat with friends and family members you approve of, via text or video, as well as send photos, choosing from a rich library of age-appropriate and "specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools" that let them "decorate content and express their personalities".

Also, unlike the regular version of Facebook, children under 13 on the app won't have Facebook accounts associated with their app. Facebook's current policy doesn't let individuals under 13 create accounts. Every additional friend request must be approved by the parent.

To activate the account for their kids, parents need to enter their Facebook email address and password. Android users will also get a version of the Messenger Kids at some point in the future.

"Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love". Facebook said it was fully compliant with the US Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and that it had worked with online safety experts including the National PTA and Blue Star Families.

She said, "For a child who is just now starting out in social media to have certain restrictions and parental guidance, that is important".

At this time, Messenger Kids will be available in the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone devices for those in the United States, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months. Davis said that Facebook spoke with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure that the app complies with COPPA. Kids also are not allowed to delete conversations so adults can monitor their children's devices.

Facebook's child-friendly venture comes as other tech companies like YouTube struggle with kid content on their platform.

Major tech firms have recently released more products that allow children to engage within the limits of the privacy law - and that reach more of the country's approximately 50 million children under the age of 13 in the process.

Research shows most kids 6-13 are already on social media or messaging apps like Snapchat & Musically that don't protect against stranger danger.