The Messenger Kids application is designed for kids ages six to 12. It does not require the child to have a Facebook account, as per federal law users younger than 13 cannot legally sign up for Facebook.
The tech giant has announced that there will be no ads on Messenger Kids and no in-app purchases.
Currently the new app is only available in the US, but Facebook plans to expand the messenger’s availability beyond iOS to the Amazon App Store and Google Play Store in the coming months.
The new messenger will have a library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools, which will allow the children to design and decorate content and express their creativity.
Parents will have the ability to control a child’s contact list, while the home screen will show pre-approved friends that are online and preexisting one-on-one chats and group threads.
Facebook’s public policy director, Antigone Davis, wrote, “Children today are online earlier and earlier. They use family-shared devices and many, as young as six or seven years old, even have their own.”
However, critics of this new messenger app are voicing their concern over how Facebook is pursuing the next generation of users by targeting children.
“It’s not far-fetched to assume that child users of Messenger Kids will be more likely to want a Facebook account, and that Facebook will make it easier in the future to migrate a child’s Messenger Kids account over to the main app,” The Verge reported.