It’s important to note that kids under 13 aren’t required to sign up for a Facebook account. Instead, this is a standalone app available for iOS devices that parents can manage through their own Facebook account (no need for parents to also download the app on their devices).
Through Facebook, parents can approve people for their kids to chat with, create a mini profile for them and more. Children aren’t searchable on Facebook which means, if your kid wants to message a classmate with Messenger Kids, you will have to first find that kid’s parents on Facebook, friend them yourself then approve them to communicate with your child (they will have to approve you as well). That’s a bit of a hassle, no doubt.
The idea is solid and helps serve as a way to bring younger kids into group family chats without exposing them to the Internet at large. It can also be a lot of fun as there are built-in masks, emojis, stickers and sound effects to bring boring conversations (talking with grandma) to life.
Facebook says it isn’t using Messenger Kids to target users with ads; the app is free and there are no in-app purchases. What it is doing, however, is conditioning your kid for a world full of social media and introducing them to the Facebook platform early on, increasing the odds that they’ll settle on Facebook when they become of age.
Messenger Kids is available in the App Store for US iOS users. Look for it to arrive on Google Play and the Amazon App Store in the coming months.