Facebook has released a video chat and messaging app to help children connect with their friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space.
The Messenger Kids app is available on Google Play store for Android and Apple App store. It is designed for children between the ages of six to 12 years.
To design the Messenger kids app, Facebook worked closely with youth advisors made up of experts in child development, online safety and media over a couple of years. The company also consulted with child safety educators across Africa to ensure that the product can balance parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.
“It is our responsibility to ensure online safety for our children. The greatest sign of success is when our children display responsible independence during their online interaction. The launch of Facebook Messenger Kids is an amazing stride toward child online safety because our young children will enjoy and participate in social media on child developed platforms that have safety parameters to keep them safe.” Said Safety expert Evelyn Kasina, Family IT Consultant, Eveminet.
The messenger Kids app is made for children, but controlled by parents. It is full of features allowing kids to connect with their loved ones. Their account is set up by the parent after which they can proceed to have one-on-one connections. At a glance, the home screen shows them who they are connected to and when their contacts are online. Other fun features available in the app include
- Emojis, playful masks and sound effects to bring their conversations to life.
- Apart from videos, kids can also send photos, videos or text messages to friends and adult relatives approved by their parents. They will receive the messages through the regular messenger app.
- A collection of kid-appropriate GIFs, stickers, frames, masks and drawing tools to allow them decorate content and express their personalities.
Commenting on the launch, Kojo Boakye, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa said: “We know that parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family online. With privacy, security, and parental control at the heart of the app, Messenger Kids provides a safe, fun space, controlled by parents to do exactly that.”
There is a parent dashboard on the app allowing parents to
- Monitor recent contacts, chat history, reported and blocked accounts. Parents can also see data of who is chatting with their child, whether they are video chatting, sending texts or images, and how frequently the conversations have been for the last 30 days. You will also see blocked/unblocked contacts, why they are blocked and whether your child has reported the action. You will continue to be notified via messenger if your child blocks someone.
- See a log of videos and images in chats. You can see which photos and videos your child has sent and received. If you believe a photo or video is inappropriate, you can remove it and report it.
- Enable supervised friending: The feature allows parents to give their child permission to accept, reject, add or remove contacts with the ability to override certain contact approvals done through the parent’s dashboard. When kids take any friending action, the parent is notified through messenger and they can override any of those actions by going to the parent dashboard, where they will be able to view all recent activities.
- Remote device logout: Allows the parent to see all the devices where the child is logged into and can log out of the messenger kids app on any device using the parent dashboard.
- Download your child’s Messenger Kids data: Just like you can download your own information on the Facebook app, you can do the same for your kid. You will get information such as the child’s contacts, messages, images and videos they have sent or received. Your child will also get a notification on the messenger Kids app when you request for the information.
More Information on Messenger Kids
- Messenger kids does not contain ads, and your children’s info is not used to generate ads.
- The app is free to download and free to use. It does not have in-app purchases or ads.
- The app is designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA)
- Facebook is continuously working with parents, safety and security experts to improve Messenger Kids. The company has announced new ways that will help parents to connect children with their friends.