[ UPDATE 23/04/2020 11:10 ]: A representative has now informed us that the an Android version of Messenger Kids will be available in Malaysia by the end of the week on the Google Play Store. The iOS version is available now on the App Store.
The world of social media can be a dangerous one, especially for underage users. Facebook’s Messenger Kids is designed to help kids stay connected with friends and family—but in a “fun, parent-controlled space”. The app was first introduced for the U.S. market awhile back, and now, Facebook has announced a global rollout for 75 countries, including Malaysia.
Messenger Kids, much like the full version of Facebook Messenger, is an instant messaging app with video chat capabilities. However, there are a number of features that set it apart by giving a degree of control to parents. For one, the account needs to be set up by a parent, while parents can also manage contacts and accounts via a Parent Dashboard within the main Facebook mobile app.
Masks, emojis, and sound effects that are regularly used in Messenger conversations are now “playful” and kid-friendly, while kids will also have access to a special library of GIFs, stickers, and other visual effects. The Messenger Kids app also allows kids to communicate with adult accounts with photos, GIFs, videos, and text messages—adults will reeive the message on the regular, “adult” Messenger app.
Facebook says that the app is a product of a collaborative work with Facebook’s Youth Advisors, with child safety advocates and educators also referred to during development.
“We continue to consult child safety advocates and educators to ensure we’re providing a service that balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.”
How to set up Messenger Kids
To set up a Messenger Kids account for your kid, it’s a fairly straightforward process.
- First, download the Messenger Kids app on the App Store for iOS devices.
- You’ll need to authenticate the device being used by your kid, using your own Facebook username and password.
- Then, create a separate account for your child within the setup process. You can also select from various opt-in features here.
- You can control who your kid has in their contact list. Head to the Messenger Kids Parent Dashboard within the main Facebook app: More > Messenger Kids.
That’s just about it. It’s worth noting that Facebook’s kid-friendly app is free of ads, and more importantly, Facebook also says that kids’ information is not used for ads. Additionally, the app has zero in-app purchases, and is “designed to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
There isn’t any mention of a Google Play app for Android devices, but the official Messenger Kids website states that versions are available on the App Store, Google Play Store, and the Amazon App Store.
Messenger Kids is now available to download for parents in Malaysia today. To find out more, click here.