While most social-networking sites and apps, including Facebook, require users to be over thirteen years of age, there seems to be a need among parents to let younger children communicate with their friends in a controlled manner. Facebook has now decided to make this possible with the Messenger Kids app that is now rolling out in the US.
Parents can now create profiles for their children through their own account and then configure it on kids' phones or tablets in the Messenger Kids app. The child's profile and friends will be controlled using the parent's Facebook account.
Facebook has revealed that it has worked with many parents, advisors and child safety professionals to develop the application. The company has also been in discussions with organizations such as the National PTA and Blue Star Families for coming up with the parental controls and decide the approach for a digital platform for children. An important point to note is that Facebook has promised that it won't be collecting the children's data for ad targeting or marketing purposes, unlike the adult version of the app.
From features point-of-view, the Messenger Kids app doesn't seem too different from the standard Messenger app. Children can chat using text, audio or video using the app. It also supports image filters and emoji, picked appropriately for kids.
In order to setup Messenger Kids for your child, you can follow the steps mentioned below:
- Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store.
- Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child’s device using your own Facebook username and password. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.
- Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you’ll need to do is provide their name. Then the device can be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.
- Add contacts: To add people to your child’s approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on “More” on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click “Messenger Kids” in the Explore section.
Facebook is currently rolling out the app for iOS users in the US, while the Android version is expected to launch soon. There is no word about expanding the availability of the app to other countries at the moment.