The app called Messenger Kids does not require a Facebook account due to a US federal law, which forbids users under the age of 13 to legally sign up for Facebook. Rather, parents are able to manage a child’s Messenger Kids app from their Facebook account, controlling who the child is able to contact. The approved contacts will be shown on the home screen and the child will be able to tell when they’re online.
“In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app,” Facebook explains.
Furthermore, “a library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities” are also available in the app.
Facebook launched the app Monday, 4 December in preview with a limited rollout on iOS.
Facebook says it’s going to great lengths to make sure the app does not come off as exploitative.
“There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” the company says.
Facebook also adds that Messenger Kids is designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. That’s a US federal law that protects underage children from exploitation online, and it’s the reason so many online services require children be 13 years of age or older in order to sign up.
Love the idea of having some control over with who your kids chat with online? Then you might be disappointed if you’re not living in the US. For now, the new app is only available for users in the US, with plans to expand its availability beyond iOS to the Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.
Here’s hoping Facebook will be prevailed on to rolled the app worldwide.
For more on the Messenger Kids app, visit Facebook newsroom website.