Facebook has recently launched a new version of its messaging app, specifically designed for kids of the ages of 6-12 years, called as Messenger Kids. As the law in most of the countries doesn’t allow the kid under the age of 13 to sign up for Facebook, so this new version of Messenger doesn’t require a Facebook account.
Messenger Kids app of the children will be managed by their parents, as it will be linked to parent’s Facebook account. The app is quite similar to Facebook’s normal messaging app with a few variations. Children using the app can only send GIFs which are appropriate according to their age. Their version has no ads or in-app purchases available and the account must be set up by a parent. Parents will have access to add and remove contacts to a child’s account.
The primary purpose of designing Messenger Kids is to offer video and text chat along with the variety of playful masks and filters, originally a Snapchat feature, that is now present across Facebook’s many messaging products.
The app will not show ads, it means that Facebook will collect fewer data. Facebook will not be doing targeted advertising towards kids on Messenger Kids. The data collected by the app will be used for displaying the previous messages in a conversation, to put most frequent contacts at the top of the contact list.
According to a research by a consulting agency Dubit, over 90% of children aged 6 to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones, and 66 percent of that same age group own a tablet or a smartphone.
Facebook’s public policy director, Antigone Davis says that the Messenger Kids project was developed while working closely with child development experts. He further states that,
“In all of our research, there was one theme that was consistent: parents want to know they’re in control. They want a level of control over their kids’ digital world that is similar to the level they have in the real world.”
Messenger Kids app is currently available for iOS users in the US, however, Facebook will be soon rolling it out for Android users worldwide. Facebook’s child-friendly app comes as other tech companies like YouTube struggle with kid content on their platform, which has been criticized by public recently.