Facebook on Monday announced the launch of a new version of its popular chat application Messenger named Messenger Kids. The new chat app has been designed primarily for children with a number of parental control features bundled in.
The Messenger Kids application has been created to cater to users under the age of 13 as the social media giant does not legally allow users under 13 to sign up for an account. Messenger Kids, therefore, does not require a Facebook account and can be downloaded for free from the App Store for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. The application, however, is under development, being available only as a preview in the US.
In terms of functionality, the application allows texting and video calling features to kids in a move which should see Facebook improve early adoption of its services for the newer generation.
The app requires an account to be set up, by the parent, for the first time after which children are allowed an option to initiate a one-on-one chat with an individual or participate in a group chat. The contacts available for chat, in this case, require prior parental approval, allowing the parents complete control of whom their children can converse with.
A number of playful masks, gifs, frames, stickers, emojis and sound effects have also been thrown in for good measure, an addition that one is accustomed to while using Facebook Messenger. The platform is cross-linked to Messenger’s regular database allowing recipients to use the regular Messenger app to respond to messages.
Parents can head over to the Messenger Kids Control panel on the regular Facebook app to manage their kid’s contact list at all times. The Messenger Kids account which is required to be created after downloading the app requires an authentication from a parent or adult after which the account is interlinked with the parental controls tab to show up.
Based on a post shared on its blog, Facebook’s primary focus with Messenger Kids is to offer as much functionality as possible with several levels of parental control. Attempting to understand the concerns of parenting and the use of social media at such a tender age, Facebook claims to have worked with thousands of parents, expert advisors in the areas of child development as well as online safety experts before announcing Messenger Kids.
“We’ve also had thought-provoking conversations around topics of responsible online communication, parental controls and much more with organisations like National PTA and Blue Star Families, where we heard firsthand how parents and caregivers approach raising children in today’s digitally connected world,” Facebook stated in the blog.