Facebook is launching a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals.
The free app, called Messenger Kids, hopes to attract parents looking for a safe online chat service, with a greater level of parental control, child-friendly features, screened content and safety filters to prevent children sharing inappropriate content.
Messenger Kids is a standalone app installed on the child’s tablet or smartphone, but controlled from a parent’s Facebook account. The child does not have a Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13; instead the app operates as an extension of the parent’s account. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages.
There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child’s information will not be used for advertising purposes. Facebook also said it will not automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough, though the company may provide them the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.
Loren Cheng, a product management director at Facebook, said: “Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mom a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.”