Facebook launched a free video calling and messaging app aimed at children aged 6 to 12 years old, though it gives parents full control over who can be on the contact list.
Parents will authenticate their child’s device using their own Facebook login and password so children won’t need to have an account. Named Messenger Kids, the service works on Wi-Fi so there is also no need for a phone number.
“Kids can only connect with parent-approved contacts, which creates a more controlled environment. Messages don’t disappear and can’t be hidden in case parents would like to check in,” the company stated on the app’s website.
Parents and approved adults like grandparents can communicate with children through Facebook’s main Messenger app.
Thrilled to launch Messenger Kids. An app designed for kids 6-12 to connect with their family and friends, with parental controls to ensure they do so safely. It includes realtime video chat with AR effects for more fun! pic.twitter.com/r9Lb9w6R6G
— David Marcus (@davidmarcus) December 4, 2017
“Unlike other places on the web, kids can only chat with people their parent has approved, making Messenger Kids a safer, more controlled environment,” it stated on the website.
Messenger Kids is currently available in the US App Store with plans to bring it to Android devices and Amazon Fire tablets soon.
The app will have “appropriate” masks, frames, stickers and GIFs allowing children to create videos and decorate photos.
Facebook said the app is designed to be compliant with important child privacy laws including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and is advert-free.
The social media giant will collect data sent via the app, a move which was criticised by groups including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Public Citizen.