Facebook Releases Messenger Kids App For Children 13 And Under

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Facebook is getting more kid friendly.

On Monday, the social media giant announced the release of Messenger Kids, a new standalone app intended to provide a safe space for children under the age of 13 to communicate with parents, friends and other approved contacts though text and video messaging.

“After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA, and parenting experts in the US, we found that there's a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want,” Loren Cheng, Product Development Director, said in a release.

Here's how it works:

  • Parents download the Messenger Kids app on their smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.  
  • After downloading, parents can set up a Messenger Kids account for their child by using through their Facebook account. Since Messenger Kids is a standalone app, children will not have Facebook profiles created for them – the app is only authorized and managed though a parent's Facebook account.
  • Once connected, parents can use the Control Panel on their Facebook account to monitor and manage who their child can contact through the Messenger Kids app.

The app comes packed with fun features, like GIFS, stickers and kid-friendly filters kids can use alongside video chat, and SMS messaging.

The app was designed with privacy in mind, developed to be fully Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) compliant and without ads or in-app purchases. A child's data won't be shared with advertisers, either. 

COPPA is a Federal Trade Commission directive for online sites that knowingly collect data from children under 13 years old. Facebook's current Terms and Conditions prohibit children under 13 years old from creating their own Facebook accounts. 

“We know that when building for kids, we have to get it right and we're taking that responsibility seriously,” Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, said in a release. “We want to create technologies that benefit, rather than harm or are merely neutral on the lives of children. We're proceeding carefully and will share what we learn along the way.”

This is the first product Facebook's released that's specifically aimed at children. 

A preview of the Messenger Kids app is currently only available in the US Apple App Store. It is expected to release on Amazon and Google Play “in coming months.” 

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