Facebook rolls out Messenger for kids with parental controls

Facebook on Monday announced it’s releasing a preview of a brand new children-focused Messenger app in the United States which parents can remotely monitor and manage using a set of appropriately designed parental controls.

The new US-only Messenger Kids app is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) and ad-free, meaning your child’s information isn’t used for ads.

Everything about it was designed to be safe for kids, from Facebook-sanctioned GIFs, frames, and stickers to masks and drawing tools. Kids can send photos, videos or text messages to friends and adult relatives, who will receive them via the regular Messenger app.

“Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love,” notes Facebook. “Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. The home screen shows them at a glance who they are approved to talk to and when those contacts are online.”

With built-in parental controls, parents can easily adjust the features of the app.

Specifically, parents control kids accounts and contacts to ensure their children cannot connect with people their parent doesn’t approve. Sexual predators rely on apps like Messenger and the relative anonymity provided by the Internet to exploit children so Facebook is attempting to help address this problem with the new app.

Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent. For parents, setting your child up with a Messenger Kids account is done in four steps:

  • Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child’s iPhone, iPad or iPod touch from 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.

The promotional video embedded below shows off the app in action.

As mentioned, the iOS app is currently available in the United States only. It’ll be coming to Amazon’s App Store and Google’s Play Store in the coming months.

For more information about the app, visit messengerkids.com.

Messenger Kids is a free download from US App Store.