Today, Facebook released the Android version of their Messenger Kids app. This means it’s available on iOS, Android, and Kindle now. That should pretty much cover most families. Facebook Messenger Kids puts the control in the parent’s hands, making it easy by building it into the Facebook App and Messenger App that you likely already use. You can decide who they are allowed to chat with and approve or deny friend requests.
CHECK OUT: Facebook Messenger for Kids! for even more info about the app.
My family uses Messenger Kids, albeit with some strict time limits (1hr per day) which we enforce through Circle (all devices) and unGlue (our older child.) It is a great way to help them get a feel for chatting through a messenger without strangers, bullies, or the constant notifications or FOM0 (Fear of Missing Out) that can accompany tech addiction. Facebook built in a lot of the controls and made the app kid-friendly by not allowing gifs that don’t originate in the Kids Messenger app and not allowing messages to be sent to unapproved friends.
What Parents Should Know
Since settings are controlled through your Facebook account, parents don’t have to have the same type of device as their child. You can set up your kids’ messenger app on his Android through your iPhone, for example. Keep in mind how addicting it can be to message your friends. Remember not to give them access to approve or disapprove of their friends on Messenger, this defeats the entire purpose. I know it can get tiresome to always have to sign off on everything they want to do online but Facebook makes it pretty easy with notifications on your own app.
Use something to manage their time, like unGlue. Talk to your kids about only messaging people they know in person and let them know what to do if someone asks them something they aren’t comfortable with. They should know that they can come to you when there is trouble. Messenger Kids is a good idea from Facebook and they did a lot of work to learn what parents would want out of a messaging app for their kids. Now the app is available on all devices so, if your kids have people they want to talk with, use this as a way to keep them in touch safely.