Facebook launches a Messenger app specifically for children

Facebook has unveiled a new version of its chat app, specifically for children.

The tech giant's Messenger Kids app will feature strict parental controls, including contact approvals, in an effort to provide a safe chat and video calling service.

Facebook said the app is "designed for kids to connect with close friends and family from their tablet or smartphone", and the parent-approved contacts creates "a more controlled environment".

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The free app, which is initially being rolled out in the US, is a standalone one for the child's tablet or phone, but is controlled from a parent's Facebook account. Parents, and other approved adults, can video chat and message with the children through their existing Messenger app.

In order for two children to chat on the app, each of their parents or guardians must approve the connection.

Messenger Kids allows children to message and video call using Wi-Fi, so they also will not need a phone number.

As well as offering group and one-on-one calls, Facebook has upped the appeal to kids by adding in interactive "kid-appropriate" masks, stickers, reactions and sound effects.

It also said advertising will not be shown within the app.

The app is available on the App Store, with plans to launch on Android devices and Amazon Fire tablets soon.

The app features a host of parental controls (Source: Facebook)

The parental controls within the app
  • Account creation: Each child's Messenger Kids account will be managed through the Facebook account of their parent or guardian. A parent must initiate the account setup process from the Messenger Kids parental controls within Facebook
  • Parent-approved contacts: Kids can only connect with family members and friends their parent approves, which makes the app a safer, more controlled environment
  • Blocking: Kids can block people they don't want to be connected to, and parents can remove people from a child's contact list at any time. This also hides the child from the blocked person, who can no longer see them in the app
  • Reporting: Parents and children can report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable from the child's Messenger Kids account. There is an option to provide more context before reporting the content. A parent is notified through Messenger if their child reports content or other accounts on Messenger Kids
  • Account deletion: A parent or guardian can delete their child’s Messenger Kids account at any time through the Messenger Kids parental controls within Facebook

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