Facebook launches Messenger Kids in India and announces new features for monitoring your kids’ friending activities

Facebook’s Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that allows youngsters to stay connected with friends and family in a parent-controlled space. And now, it has finally arrived in India.

Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, said the company has started rolling out Messenger Kids in more than 70 new countries around the world.

A support page on Facebook lists Brazil, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka among the other countries who are receiving Messenger Kids now.

Messenger Kids was originally launched in the US in 2017 and had expanded to Canada and Peru in 2018, revealed a report in The Verge. Facebook says that it’s launching in more countries as children around the world are having to learn remotely owing to the COVID–19 pandemic.

Using the parents dashboard, parents will be able to control who their kids are friending on Messenger.

According to Davis, parents have told Facebook they want to give their wards more independence in managing their contact lists while still maintaining parental supervision.

A new feature in Messenger Kids called ‘Supervised Friending’ allows parents to accept, reject, and add or remove contacts from their kids’ lists.

The feature has started to roll out in the US from 22 April, and it will gradually be available to the rest of the world. Dr Lewis Bernstein, a member of Facebook’s Youth Advisors, who helped shape the Messenger Kids app, said that this is a powerful opportunity and teachable moment for parents to have a conversation with their kids about the life-long skill of choosing one’s friends, both in reality, and online.

“In addition to allowing parents more ways to manage their child’s messaging experience, Supervised Friending develops kids’ autonomy to decide who they do or don’t want to connect with, while parents can observe, provide guidance and step in as necessary,” Dr Bernstein said.

Here’s how one can get access to Facebook Messenger Kids:

Firstly, a user must download the Messenger Kids app to a smart device. Then, the kid’s device needs to be authenticated using the parent’s Facebook login. This does not create a Facebook account for the child.

Parents have to then create an account for their children by adding their name. Once done, parents can manage their kid’s account and customise controls in the Parent Dashboard in the Facebook app.