Facebook has now expanded the launch of its Messenger Kids app to 70 new countries, probably since most school-age kids around the world are staying at home right now. Those who are still in the middle of their school year have decided to do some group video calls every once in a while and so Facebook is making Messenger an important tool, but of course with parental supervision. The app is also bringing some new features that can give kids some sort of autonomy but still under the watchful eye of their parents and guardians.
One of the new features that they’re including in Messenger Kids is Supervised Friending. It’s an option that will let kids accept, reject, add, and remove their own contacts but parents are still notified every time they would do one of those and they can also override any of the approvals through the Parent Dashboard. Previously, only parents can make those decisions but if they wish to give a bit more autonomy of sorts to their kids, this is the way to do so. It will only be available in the U.S. initially but will eventually roll out to other countries.
Another new feature is that parents can give other adults like teachers the ability to add kids to group chats. A lot of classes are using group chats and video calls to connect classmates together. Teachers, coaches, parents, and other leaders will be able to access this feature in the U.S. and eventually other countries too. Parents can also now make their child’s profile name and photo visible to friends of their kids’ contacts and their parents as well as children of the parents’ Facebook friends that have the Messenger Kids app.
Facebook worked closely with parents, parenting organizations, child safety and privacy advocates, and child development experts when they were developing Messenger Kids. For the new features, they also worked with Youth Advisors which was made up of child development, media, and online safety experts. They also emphasized in a blog post all the safety measures that are incorporated in the app as well as the fact that they don’t put ads on the app and they don’t use the kids’ data to inform ads on the other Facebook apps.
Messenger Kids is now available in 70 more countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. They are also planning to bring it to more countries soon. The new features are only available in limited countries but they will also make it live for the others over the next few weeks.