Facebook’s stand-alone Messenger Kids application is now available in 74 more countries, and three new opt-in features were added to help parents connect their kids with their friends.
Global head of safety Antigone Davis said in a Newsroom post, “With schools closed and people physically distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family, and looking to do so in a parent-controlled way. To help, we’re starting to roll out Messenger Kids to more countries and we’re adding new opt-in features for parents to help them connect their kids with their friends. Starting today, kids in 74 new countries around the world can use Messenger Kids, with more coming soon.”
Davis said that while previously, parents had to invite and approve all contacts for their kids, with Supervised Friending, they can allow their kids to accept and reject friend requests or add and remove contacts, but they will still have the option of overriding those decisions via the Parent Dashboard.
When a kid makes one of those moves, their parent(s) will be notified via Messenger From Facebook, and they can also see a log of recent activities in the Parent Dashboard.
Supervised Friending will begin rolling out in the U.S. Wednesday, with the rest of the world to follow.
Davis introduced Messenger Kids’ new groups feature as follows: “Kids often build community through their classes at school, participating in a team sport or other extracurricular activities. Just as parents allow a teacher or coach to help their child navigate classroom or team friendships, this new opt-in feature allows parents to approve a similar adult to help connect their child with other children through a group in Messenger Kids.”
Approved adults can only connect kids whose parents have granted the same approval, and Davis said coaches, parents, teachers and other leaders can access the feature here.
Groups on Messenger Kids will also begin rolling out in the U.S. Wednesday, with the rest of the world to follow.
Finally, parents in Canada, Latin America and the U.S. can now opt to make their kids’ names and profile photos visible to friends of their kids’ contacts and their parents, as well as to kids of the parents’ Facebook friends and kids of people invited by parents to download Messenger Kids.
This feature will be extended to the rest of the world in the coming weeks.
Davis wrote, “Parental control is at the heart of Messenger Kids. Parents manage who their kids interact with and can monitor their child’s activity in the app through the Parent Dashboard, where they can also download their child’s information at any time. We know privacy and security are particularly important when it comes to kids online, and we take seriously the responsibility to protect kids’ information.”