Facebook is launching a messaging app for children to chat with their parents and with friends approved by their parents.
A new report from TechCrunch says the free app is aimed at kids under 13, who can’t yet have their own accounts under Facebook’s rules, though they often do.
Messenger Kids comes with a slew of controls for parents. The service won’t let children add their own friends or delete messages — only parents can do that. Kids don’t get a separate Facebook or Messenger account; rather, it’s an extension of a parent’s account.
“Messenger Kids is full of features for kids to connect with the people they love. … Messenger Kids gives parents more control,” said Product Management Director Loren Cheng in a blog post.
In a separate post, the company’s top safety official, Antigone Davis, said that the “largest social media platform in the world has the opportunity and obligation to address” questions and concerns about the increasingly common ways children lead their lives online. The company says the application is compatible with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act.
Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the U.S. only and will be targeting kids aged 6 to 12 with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app.
Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger. These controls are accessible through the main Facebook app.
Facebook’s child-friendly venture comes as other tech companies like YouTube struggle with kid content on their platform. The Google-owned video site recently pledged to crack down on exploitative videos of children that have proliferated on its platform.
Unfortunately, the social media giant has yet to say when this feature will expand to other countries beyond the U.S.