Facebook announced that it is rolling out Messenger Kids, an app designed to allow kids ages 6 to 12 to have fun video chatting and messaging with friends and family in a parent-controlled environment. Parents in the Philippines will be able to download the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
As many communities are managing the response to COVID-19, with schools closed and people practicing physical distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family, and looking to do so in a parent-controlled way.
Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that helps kids connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space. For years, Facebook has been working with Youth Advisors, a team of experts in online safety, child development, and media, to help shape the Messenger Kids app. Facebook also continues to consult child safety advocates, and educators to ensure that the Messenger Kids app balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.
“Through our work with the Stairway Foundation, the Child Rights Network, and other safety partners in the Philippines, we learned that many Filipino parents are looking for ways to help their children stay in touch with friends and family during this challenging time, in a fun and parent-supervised environment. We hope that Messenger Kids will help them to continue to find ways to have fun, create, and engage with friends and family,” said Amber Hawkes, APAC head of safety, Facebook.
“In a pandemic, children are not able to explore and socialize with friends the way they used to. Experiencing change and restrictions in both learning and play is especially challenging for children. We are glad to see that Messenger Kids has been designed with built-in parental controls and safety in mind, and also fun features that are age-appropriate and encouraging children to stay connected even as they are staying physically apart. We shall continue working with Facebook to help make the platform safe for children,” said Ace Diloy of the Stairway Foundation.
Fun features built for kids
Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat. The home screen shows them at a glance who they are connected with to, and when those contacts are online.
- Playful masks, emojis, and sound effects bring conversations to life.
- In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app.
- A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks, and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities.
- Messenger Kids gives parents more control. Parents manage the contact list and have visibility into how their kids are using the app. Parents control kids’ accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard in their main Facebook iOS and Android app
How to get started
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 iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone. Messenger Kids will also be available in the Google Play Store and on Android devices.
- 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 you’ll provide their name and opt-in to any additional features. The device can then be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with family and friends.
- Add contacts: To add people to your child’s contact list, go to the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard 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.
More information and what’s next
There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases. Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).