Latest up is Facebook Messenger Kids, an all-new product that the social media platform claims will help parents keep children under the age of 13 safe online—and not just another way to garner more early adopters.
Loren Cheng, Facebook’s product management director, said Messenger Kids is a standalone app “that makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person.” The app will work the same way as Facebook Messenger and is currently only available in the United States and on iOS. It will be released on Amazon and Google devices in the coming months.
“Today, parents are increasingly allowing their children to use tablets and smartphones, but often have questions and concerns about how their kids use them and which apps are appropriate,” Cheng said in the announcement made Monday. “Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.”
Messenger Kids needs to be linked to an existing Facebook account, presumably one belonging to the parents, and the administrating account has to approve any added contact before the Messenger Kids user can speak to them. Messenger Kids does not include any ads or in-app purchases, meaning that parents needn’t worry about mysterious credit card bills and marketers needn’t worry about accusations about targeting messages to children. The app is also Children’s Online and Protection Act compliant, which is less of a feature as it is a legal requirement.
Despite the lack of in-app advertising or monetization options, Messenger Kids is still a powerful marketing tool. Facebook is selling itself, offering, in essence, a demo of the real deal to children that its terms and conditions bars it from interacting with. If popularly used, Messenger Kids will build a stable of early adopters for Messenger itself, stealing market share from the more-popular-among-youths Snapchat before it even has the chance, legally, to reach out to them.