Facebook has expanded its Messenger Kids platform to Sub-Saharan Africa to help parents monitor their children’s activity while they [children] connect with their friends and family. The video and messaging app available to download from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, or Amazon App Store.
Messenger Kids is designed for children from the age 6 to 12 years and controlled by parents who have the ability to control the people of who their kids can talk to, as well as supervise their children’s friending where they choose to allow their children to add, approve, or remove contacts.
Facebook has worked closely with youth advisors team that is made up of experts in online safety, child development and media to shape the Messenger Kids app. Ahead of the launch, the social media giant also consulted with child safety advocates and educators across Africa to ensure that its providing a service that balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online.
Facebook has done this in response to the rising cases of Child-cyber insecurity especially in the covid-19 pandemic lock-down where nearly half of the world is online for all activities including online schooling.
While kids use Messenger Kids, parents can connect with them using their Messenger app. Approved adults can easily message and video chat with their kids via the Messenger app — no additional app download is needed.
Once their account is set up by a parent, kids can start a one-on-one or group video chat. The home screen shows them at a glance who they are connected to, and when those contacts are online. Some fun features available in the app, include: playful masks, emojis and sound effects bring conversations to life, a library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools to let them decorate content and express their personalities, to mention a few.
On the other hand, through the Parent’s Dashboard, parents can control and monitor their child’s activity enabling them to:
- Monitor recent contacts, chat history, reported and blocked contacts including who the child is chatting with, whether they are video chatting or sending messages and how frequently those conversations happened over the past 30 days.
- See a log of images and videos in chats that the child has sent and received in their inbox and remove it if found inappropriate for the child’s viewing or report it.
- Enable supervised friending where parents choose to allow their kids to also accept, reject, add or remove contacts, while maintaining the ability to override any new contact approvals from the Parent Dashboard. When a kid takes a friending action, parents will be notified through Messenger and can override any new connections made by going to the Parent Dashboard, where they will also be able to see a log of recent activities.
- Remote device logout where the child is logged in to Messenger Kids and log out of the app on any device through the Parent Dashboard
- Download the child’s information: Request a copy of the child’s Messenger Kids information, similar to how parents can download their own information within the Facebook app. The download will include a list of the child’s contacts as well as the messages, images and videos they have sent and received. The child will be notified through the Messenger Kids app when parents request this information.