Facebook has launched a new messaging application designed specifically for children. The app, called Messenger Kids, is currently available for only iOS devices.
The Facebook social network requires individuals to be at least 13 years of age before they can sign up for a full account on the website and use the service in mobile apps. However, the new Messenger Kids application can be used by children as young as 6. The key security feature is that a child cannot sign up or start using Messenger Kids unless a parent or guardian approves it through their own Facebook account.
When signing a child up for Messenger Kids, a parent only needs to enter the child’s first and last name. After that, a parent must approve every new contact that the child wants to message with. Before a new connection can be made, parents of both children must first friend each other on their own Facebook accounts. Text conversations on the Messenger Kids application cannot be deleted by the child user.
In the announcement regarding the launch of Messenger Kids, Facebook emphasized that security is the major focus of the new service. According to the company, data from Messenger Kids is stored completely separate from all other Facebook data. The new app will not feature any advertising or allow for public searching of child accounts.
When a child using Messenger Kids turns 13 years old, they will not be automatically upgraded to a full Facebook account. Parents do not need to download the Messenger Kids application on their own iOS devices, as they can communicate with their own children through the standard Messenger app from the iOS App Store.
Facebook expects to launch versions of Messenger Kids for Android and Kindle tablets within the next year. The company hopes to regain popularity with younger users as they continue to compete with social networks like Snapchat and Instagram.