Facebook has revealed a new version of its Messenger app, designed to get kids as young as six familiar with the social network.
The new Messenger Kids app, which focuses heavily on emoji, stickers, photos and live video, helps the firm skirt US laws on under 13s having Facebook accounts.
By using the new app, pre-teen children will be able to message their friends and family without needing to sign up for a Facebook account.
They don’t need to have a phone number either and the messaging is handled via a Wi-Fi connected device.
The account, which requires the child’s full name, is authenticated by the parents’ own Facebook accounts.
There are plenty of other safeguards in place. Parents of kids who want to chat with each other must be Facebook friends first and ok the correspondence.
If your other family members want to contact your kid, they’ll be able to do so through the Facebook Messenger app, provided they’re connected to you as “family.”
The kids themselves aren’t searchable and won’t be served ads via the Messenger Kids app.
Once they turn 13 the kids will be able to create their own Facebook account, so it’s clear there’s a “start ‘em young” element to this.
However, Facebook says the app is also in response to its own research, where 3 out of 5 parents said they’d observed their pre-teen children using some sort of social media or messaging platform.
“81 percent reported their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13,” Facebook said in a blog post on Monday.
Facebook says it has consulted with a number of experts in the field (including the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Connect Safely, Center on Media and Child Health, Sesame Workshop and more. The American Academy of Pediatrics) to carefully curate Messenger Kids to ensure a safe environment for youngsters.
Right now the app is available in preview to iOS device owners in the United States.
Do you think Facebook is acting in their interest of child safety? Or is simply looking to get its claws into children from a younger age? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.