Facebook says Messenger Kids does not have ads or in-app purchases, and none of the information about the children will be used for ads. This followed the launch of the Family Link app that allows parents to control their kids' devices remotely. Messenger Kids users can do numerous same things users of the regular Messenger app can do - send text-based messages, video chat, tack on virtual stickers and face masks - but with stricter rules and parental controls in place. The narrowed app was designed after consultation with hundreds of parents and several children's advocates, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Facebook said. Then, children can text chat or video message the contacts, using child-friendly emoji, gifs and Snapchat-like filters and masks.
Facebook normally requires users to be at least 13 years old. The company also says Messenger Kids won't show ads or collect data for marketing.
Messenger Kids is the product of over 12 months of development by the Messenger team, which also spoke to hundreds of parents, primarily in the USA, as well as the United Kingdom and Australia.
Facebook is launching a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals. Facebook noted that proper privacy and security measures have been put in place to assure parents have full transparency and control over their kid's online activities.
The company spent months talking to parenting groups, child behavioral experts and safety organizations to develop the app, which should be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act.
She said, "For a child who is just now starting out in social media to have certain restrictions and parental guidance, that is important".
Above: Image of Messenger Kids provided by Facebook. Facebook plans to release Android and Amazon versions next year.
The app, which is rolling out as a preview to iOS with Android coming later, is only available in the U.S. for the timebeing.
There's a simple reason Facebook is starting to focus on children: Kids are already using technology anyway.
Sensing it could face criticism for developing a product that would help convert kids to regular Facebook users after they turn thirteen, Facebook cleverly prepared a defense in advance, notes The Verge. That is still restricted to children age 13 and up.