Facebook launched a child-safe video chat and messaging app “Messenger Kids” to help children deal with the challenges of distance learning and isolation during the virus lockdowns.
The application allows kids ages 6 to 12 to have fun video chatting and messaging with friends and family in a parent-controlled environment. The app will also be adding a “supervised friending” feature enabling parents to approve new connections, starting in the United States and gradually rolling out to other countries.
As many communities are managing the response to COVID-19, with schools closed and people practicing physical distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family, and looking to do so in a parent-controlled way.
According to Facebook’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis, “With schools closed and people physically distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family.”
“Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that helps kids connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space. Today, we’re starting to roll out Messenger Kids to more countries and we’re adding new choices for parents to connect kids with friends,” she added.
Facebook has been working with Youth Advisors, a team of experts in online safety, child development, and media, to help shape the Messenger Kids app. Facebook also continues to consult child safety advocates and educators to ensure that the Messenger Kids app balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.
“Through our work with the Stairway Foundation, the Child Rights Network, and other safety partners in the Philippines, we learned that many Filipino parents are looking for ways to help their children stay in touch with friends and family during this challenging time, in a fun and parent-supervised environment. We hope that Messenger Kids will help them to continue to find ways to have fun, create, and engage with friends and family,” said Amber Hawkes, APAC Head of Safety, Facebook.
Ace Diloy of the Stairway Foundation also added, “In a pandemic, children are not able to explore and socialize with friends the way they used to. Experiencing change and restrictions in both learning and play is especially challenging for children. We are glad to see that Messenger Kids has been designed with built-in parental controls and safety in mind, and also fun features that are age-appropriate and encouraging children to stay connected even as they are staying physically apart. We shall continue working with Facebook to help make the platform safe for children.”