Facebook unveils parent-controlled messenger app just for kids

Funner than ever

Funner than ever

For better or worse, Facebook's primary reasoning simply leans into the trend: kids are already regularly using social media apps. A joint Facebook study with the National PTA of more than 1,200 American parents of children under the age of 13 found that three of every five parents said their kids under 13 use messaging apps, social media or both, while 81 percent reported their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13.

The Messenger Kids app, aimed at kids ages 6-12, rolled out Monday on iOS in the U.S. An Android version is coming soon.

There's a lot to be said for keeping kids off the Internet and encouraging them to communicate in real life.

There will also be no display adverts or data collected on users to target them in advertising campaigns unlike the present Facebook set up.

Kids said they want to use the platforms to have fun and connect with family. And it won't just be for communication that they use messaging tools, they'll be using it for so much more including shopping.

Currently, Facebook and its attendant Messenger app are only open to registrations from people aged 13 and over.

"Adam Alter writes about this in Irresistible, and one of the first points he makes is numerous Silicon Valley giants - like Steve Jobs - allegedly didn't let their kids use the technologies they were inventing".

Retailers are also adopting Facebook Messenger as a form of communication, not just to sell but for things like shipping notifications.

"None of the messages disappear or can be deleted, so parents can look at their kid's device at any time to see their messages (this was a strong point of feedback we heard from parents)", a Facebook spokesperson told ConsumerAffairs.

Kids don't get a separate Facebook or Messenger account; rather, it's an extension of a parent's account.

Despite its heavy focus on safety and privacy, the app is likely to draw criticism - especially in the wake of safety flaws recently discovered in other apps geared toward young children.

It's important to note that kids under 13 are still not allowed to sign up for a Facebook account.

Messenger Kids is launching Monday in the USA on Apple devices - the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you'll need to do is provide their name.

There are no advertisements in Messenger Kids and Facebook says the child's information is not used for ads. The child's contact list will consist of family and friends that have been parent-approved only.

The new app - now a "preview" only available in the United States of America and on Apple's iOS - will allow the 6-12s to video chat and send photos, videos or text messages to friends approved by their parents.