Facebook Messenger Kids now available for Android devices
This file photo provided by Facebook demonstrates parental controls on Facebook's new Messenger app for kids. (Courtesy of Facebook via AP, File)
Published Thursday, February 15, 2018 10:35AM EST
The controversial Facebook app that allows children to have their own Messenger is now available on Android.
On Wednesday, Facebook's Messenger Kids was rolled out to Android devices via the Google Play store. The app, designed for children under 13 years old, was made available on the Apple Store in December 2017 and has since then also made its way to Amazon.
Messenger Kids has sparked a lot of discussions regarding the online safety of children and their potential exposure to harmful individuals. However, Facebook is adamant to tackle such risks by instead providing what they claim is a safe environment that is completely controlled by parents and has full transparency. Only friends or family that have been pre-approved will be able to speak to the child, and as it's just a messenger app, the child doesn't have, nor can he/she see another's profile.
Designed to be a fun space for kids, the app lets users video call grandparents and use stickers or GIFs to play and make funny faces, exchange birthday wishes and decorated photos with other children -- provided that both sets of parents have authorized the connection. The app is also touted as providing children with a way to contact parents, without needing a phone number.
Some parents may be coming around as the app already counts a rating of over four stars on the app stores. It also helps that Facebook has designed Messenger Kids to be compliant with important child privacy laws like the U.S. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Multiple institutions were consulted during the making, such as the National Parent-Teacher Association, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, and Sesame Workshop. What's more,1,200 parents, online security and child development specialists have also been involved to explore concerns.