Facebook has launched a new standalone version of Messenger aimed at kids. And it is, rather inevitably, called Messenger Kids. Messenger Kids is designed for children aged between six and 12, with parents being placed in charge of setting up and managing their children’s access.
Thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) no one under the age of 13 is allowed to sign up for a Facebook account. Some kids still do sign up, but Facebook has needed a way to reach out to this younger generation without upsetting their parents for some time.
A Child-Friendly Version of Facebook Messenger
Cue Messenger Kids, which is a standalone app for that lost generation of potential Facebook users. Messenger Kids is a child-friendly version of the full Messenger app that Facebook claims “lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want”.
Parents download the app onto their child’s device, authenticate it using their Facebook username and password, and then create a Messenger Kids account for their child. They’re then in sole charge of approving contacts, and can manage everything through their own Facebook account.
There’s one-on-one group chat, child-friendly masks, emojis and GIFs, and the ability for kids to send photos, videos, and messages. But no ads. If a child wants to befriend another child, their parent will need to be friends with that child’s parent, which is a rather awkward workaround.
Messenger Kids is currently only available in preview on iOS to Facebook users in the U.S. However, Facebook hopes to expand Messenger Kids to Android and Amazon in the coming months, and then beyond the borders of the United States. Assuming the app works as advertised.
Messenger Kids Is Designed for Families
Messenger Kids looks to have been built with families in mind. Because a) the system for adding your child’s friends as contacts is a pain, and b) kids see Facebook as their parents’ and grandparents’ social network. Tech-savvy children are more likely to use Snapchat or Instagram.
Still, barring a PR disaster arising from this app, Facebook has everything to gain and nothing to lose here. Messenger Kids could hook kids on Facebook at a young age, and increase the number of parents befriending each other for the sake of their children. All of which helps Facebook grow.
Are you a parent of a child under 13? Will you be downloading Messenger Kids for them? Or would you rather they stay away from social media sites until they’re a little older? Do you have any concerns about Messenger Kids? Please let us know in the comments below!