Messenger Kids is a messaging platform from social media giant Facebook. It has been around since late 2017 as a texting app for users between the ages of 9 and 11.
Initially, the developers released the app in a few select regions. However, it is now available in more than 140 countries around the globe.
Facebook’s messaging app for younger audiences allows kids to communicate via text, voice, and video. Apps like this have become indispensable in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when kids have had to stop attending school intermittently.
Even when separated by distance, kids can now stay in touch with friends and family thanks to this app.
Messenger Kids also gives parents oversight over who their little ones connect with online. As a result, it ranks as one of the most sought-after messaging apps designed for preteens.
What Features Does Messenger Kids Offer?
When it comes to communication tools, Messenger Kids does not disappoint. It features all the bells and whistles of a typical messaging app.
Users can share videos and photos via the chat function. It also offers creative ways to interact with emojis, stickers, and GIFs.
Group chats over text or video are possible as well. The app makes video calls even more fun by providing kid-friendly face filters powered by augmented reality technology.
Sound effects can also be added to recorded voice messages, as kids have fun making themselves sound like a mouse, ghost, robot, seashell, or gorilla.
In addition to the exciting ways to communicate, the app also doubles up as a digital playground. It offers activities that nurture the creativity of young minds. For instance, kids can learn simple math and coding or practice mindful meditation by playing games on the app.
Some of the games can be played with another friend over the Internet, thus teaching kids how to cooperate.
Does Messenger Kids Have Parental Controls?
Parental control tools are at the heart of Messenger Kids. The app offers several tools to ensure a safe messaging platform.
To begin with, kids can only contact people their parents have approved. Thanks to this feature, you don’t have to worry about child predators. You can have the peace of mind that your little one is using the app to contact family members, people you trust like cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, or friends whose parents you know well. The app will even update you on who your child is communicating with at any given time.
There are more controls to ensure kids do not get exposed to inappropriate content on the web. For instance, disabling links in messages will keep them away from unsafe websites. Also, children cannot delete any messages they send and receive. Therefore, parents can monitor the conversations their kids are having, and they can even download photos and videos sent over the chat function.
Besides flagging inappropriate content, the app also offers an option for blocking and unblocking contacts. These tools help deal with cyber-bullying. They also create teaching moments when parents sit their kids down to talk about a disagreement with a friend that can be resolved.
The sleep mode function and remote log-out also come in handy for limiting screen time. Parents who are concerned about tech addiction will find these tools very useful.
Which Devices are Messenger Kids Available On?
Setting up Messenger Kids is easy and does not require a phone number. Instead, parents only need to log into a device through their Facebook credentials to create an account for their child. Everything is also easy to manage from the Messenger Kids dashboard of the parent’s Facebook account.
There are two versions of the app for both iOS and Android users. However, it is also possible to use Messenger Kids on PC by installing it with special software called emulators. Using this method, it is possible to have your Kids use the app on a home computer with other parental control programs installed. It is also a convenient option if you haven’t bought your kid their own smartphone or tablet. Also, you get to avoid the inconvenience of giving your child your phone when they want to chat or face time with friends.
Is Messenger Kids Safe? The Bottom Line
There are many concerns regarding the safety of messaging apps designed for children. One of them relates to data harvesting. Messenger Kids does collect data from users such as gender, names, birth dates, app usage, device attributes, and so forth.
Also, their kids’ version of Messenger does not have any advertisements or in-app purchases. The information collected from users helps the developers troubleshoot and improve the product.
It may be comforting to know that there are options to download a child’s information and even delete an account entirely once the young one outgrows it.
Overall, Messenger Kids offers a safe platform for parents who allow preteens to chat online. It is one of the top messaging apps with tools to restrict who children text and video chat over the Internet.
Although the app has faced some criticism as an attempt to hook users into using Facebook products from a young age, it comes with usage limit tools and serves as a good training ground for more adult apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Deciding whether to sign up your kids on the app is a personal choice. Ultimately, teaching them how to navigate the online world safely falls within the purview of parental responsibility.