The preview rolls out today.
Kids are connected to technology more than ever these days—and parents worry about how to control the information their children see, or who they interact with online. Recently some Internet companies have started responding to parents’ concerns with apps or platforms built just for kids, like Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited subscription—and now, Facebook’s Messenger Kids, a new video chat and messaging app.
The social media company just launched the preview today in the App store. The standalone app can be downloaded to your child’s tablet or smartphone, but ultimately, parents have control of it through their own Facebook account. Parents can approve contacts for their children, like grandparents, aunts, and uncles—and the adult recipients will receive the messages on the regular Messenger app. It’s specifically geared for children 13 years old and under.
“After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the US, 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,” Facebook Product Management Director Loren Cheng wrote in a post on Facebook’s Newsroom.
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The app comes with kid-friendly GIFs, frames, stickers, masks, and drawing tools, so kids can customize messages. Plus, there are no ads or in-app purchases. Since it’s a standalone app, when you set it up, you’re not setting up a Facebook page for your child—it’s just for messaging and video chatting.
To set up the app, you’ll need to download it onto your kid’s device. Then, you’ll authenticate the device using your own Facebook username and password and create an account on the app for your child. You can add people to your child’s contact list on the parental controls panel in your Facebook app (go to “more” on the bottom right corner in the Facebook app and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section).