On Monday, Facebook introduced a preview of Messenger Kids, a side platform derived from the standard app designed for communication between children and families in an environment of online safety. The app is free and readily available in the Apple App Store for iPad and iPhone.
The new version of the app responds to Facebook’s detection of a necessity among families and young tweens to engage with the digital world in a controlled environment while still getting some degree of freedom and responsibility for their actions.
Its introduction coincides with ongoing controversy surrounding YouTube, where not even the strictest of policies have prevented disturbing and inappropriate content to reach kids. Channels dedicated to creating videos with corrupt content for children exist on YouTube, and they get millions of views each day.
How does Messenger Kids work?
For starters, the app does not involve getting your kids or young relatives a Facebook account just yet. To further appease parents’ anxiety, the social media site has stripped the new platform from any ads and it also won’t collect any data from the chats.
To get your kid in touch with his or her friends online, all you need to do is download the app in their device and sign in using your Facebook account or that of a responsible adult. Said account will be recognized by the site as the one where the owner can configure the settings and parental controls.
From there, you will need to create an account for your child within the app. This only requires the name of the child and no additional details. Then, from the main adult account linked to the app, parents or people responsible can add contacts from their own Facebook friends’ list.
Introducing Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can't be together in person: https://t.co/sMSEaYRyQ9. pic.twitter.com/HhVNTOVEMv
— Messenger (@messenger) December 4, 2017
What can children do on Messenger Kids?
Messenger Kids is as straightforward as it gets, allowing children to chat and make video calls with their friends and family without any external dangers of the online world.
Kids can be kids as they share pictures, videos, emojis, and gifs from a curated selection by Facebook. They can also add their own twist by adding some decorative frames, stickers, filters, and more available both for media and live video.
Right now, the Messenger Kids application preview is only available to Apple users in the United States, but it will soon come to the Amazon App Store and Google Play Store. If successful, the app might see a broader release in Canada, Europe, South America, Australia, and more.