Facebook is rolling in the United States a preview of Messenger Kids, a new app that makes it easier for kids to video chat and message with family and friends.
The standalone app lives on kids' tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent's Facebook account. This preview is available on the App Store for iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.
Messenger Kids is full of features for kids. Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat with parent-approved contacts. The home screen shows them at a glance who they are approved to talk to, and when those contacts are online.
In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app.
A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content.
Messenger Kids gives parents more control. Parents fully control the contact list and kids can't connect with contacts that their parent does not approve. Parents control kids accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel in their main Facebook app.
Every child account on Messenger Kids must be set up by a parent. For parents, setting your child up with a Messenger Kids account is done in four steps:
- Download: First, download the Messenger Kids app on your child's iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone from the App Store.
Authenticate: Then, authenticate your child's device using your own Facebook username and password. This will not create a Facebook account for your child or give them access to your Facebook account.
- Create an account: Finish the setup process by creating an account for your child, where all you'll need to do is provide their name. Then the device can be handed over to the child so they can start chatting with the family and friends you approve.
- Add contacts: To add people to your child's approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app. To get there, click on "More" on the bottom right corner in your main Facebook app, and click "Messenger Kids" in the Explore section.
Facebook says that there are no ads in Messenger Kids and that your child's information isn't used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases. Messenger Kids is also designed to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
This preview of Messenger Kids is only available in the US at this time on the Apple App Store, and will be coming to Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.