Facebook recently launched a test preview of Messenger Kids, an app that allows parents to set up controlled Messenger accounts for children. After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the U.S., we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want. Whether it's using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she's working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.
She cited research that shows some 93 percent of USA kids ages six to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones - and 66 percent have their own device, often using apps meant for teens and adults.
Parental control doesn't end at the inception of the account; contacts can only be added if mum, dad or the relevant guardian say so.
Public Policy Director and Global Head of Safety at Facebook, Antigone Davis, thinks Facebook can help parents guide their children through the online world.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook will not be directly monetizing the kids app, but hopes they will become dedicated Facebook users in the future. So if a child wants to be able to chat with one of their classmates, their parent must first friend that kid's parent, and then will see the option to approve that adult's child as a contact for their own kid.
Kids will not show up in Facebook search results, so if a kid wants to chat with a friend, the parent will have to work with the friend's parent to get them both approved.
Playful masks, emojis and sound effects bring conversations to life.
Messenger Kids does little else other than to allow text chat with approved contacts, although it does offer video and group chat.
Facebook hired a special team to develop kid-friendly creative tools, from fidget spinner and dinosaur AR masks to crayon-style stickers.
Messenger Kids gives parents more control. However, the parent's approval is needed before their names can actually appear on the authorized contact list.
Parents will not have to download any additional app, as everything for their kids can be accessed within the main Messenger account of theirs.
Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child's device using your own Facebook username and password. Though at present, Facebook has no interest in converting the Messenger Kids account into a Facebook account when they turn 13.
The new app doesn't create an account for kids; parents are asked to provide only their child's name.
Messenger Kids is free to download.
"Today, parents are increasingly allowing their children to use tablets and smartphones, but often have questions and concerns about how their kids use them and which apps are appropriate", Facebook's Loren Cheng said.It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases.
In a collaboration with the National Parent Teacher Association on a study with more than 1,200 American parents of children under the age of 13, Facebook found three out of every five parents surveyed said their kids under 13 use messaging apps, social media or both, while 81 percent reported their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13. Facebook has announced that the app will be coming to the Amazon App Store and the Google Play Store in the coming months.
National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service.
We've worked extensively with parents and families to shape Messenger Kids and we're looking forward to learning and listening as more children and families start to use the iOS preview. No endorsement is implied.