Facebook announced on Monday that it is launching a new chat app for kids. The app, called Messenger Kids, allows children to send messages and photos and video chat with specific contacts that have been approved by their parents.
The app, completely seperate from the usual Facebook and Messenger apps, is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, the company said
Facebook is aiming Messenger Kids at parents who want to use Facebook to stay in touch with children under the age of 13 who are too young to sign up for a regular account on the site. The app is launching for iPhone immediately, but will eventually come to Android and Amazon Fire devices.
According to TIME, “there’s a simple reason Facebook is starting to focus on children: Kids are already using technology anyway. In a study conducted by Facebook and the National Parent Teacher Association, 81% of 1,200 American parents surveyed reported that their children started using social media apps between the ages of eight and 13.
“When launching Messenger Kids, children will see a home screen that shows the contacts they can communicate with and when they’re online. A button for launching the camera is located toward the top of the screen. There are no advertisements or in-app purchases in the app, and Facebook says it can detect certain types of abusive content and prevent it from appearing in Messenger Kids. As is the case with the regular Facebook app, the camera in Messenger Kids is loaded with stickers and effects — all of which have been made specifically for the child-friendly app and aren’t available in Facebook’s other services. This includes an effect that places a virtual mask on the user’s face and makes a corresponding sound when he or she opens their mouth. Right now Messenger Kids is designed for sending messages and video chatting, but Facebook hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding new features as it learns more about how people use the app.