Unless you are one of the very few parents who don’t allow their kids access to technology, your child probably has a phone or a tablet that they use to play, watch videos, and communicate with their peers. With technology being everywhere, it can be tough to take away our children’s phones and make them feel left out. So, for the safest experience for your kids, social media companies are gradually making versions of their apps more user-friendly. Similar to what google did with YouTube Kids, a kid-friendly version of YouTube, Facebook has a messenger edition that your child can use without you worrying about them as it gives the parents sufficient control over their child’s activities.
In December 2017, Messenger Kids was developed as an alternative to regular Facebook messenger but with a young audience in mind. They’re specifically aged between 6 to 12 years old. although it started out as an app only for Apple users (iPhone and iPad), Facebook has extended its service to Android users as well to make all children with mobile/tablets able to remotely and safely contact their family and friends.
As a parent, all you need to register a Messenger Kids account is your own Facebook profile since children under the age of 13 can’t have a Facebook account according to US federal law. Instead of using a phone number to register, you register with your child’s first and last name and is controlled through the parent’s Facebook account.
Setting Up the App
Download the App
To download the Messenger Kids app, using your kid’s phone or tablet, go to either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, depending on the operating system of your child’s device, and download the app.
To authenticate your kid’s device, you need to log in using your own Facebook account as a parent. Enter your Facebook email and password and as soon as you do, the device will be authorized and you can proceed to set up the account.
Set up the account
Enter your child’s first and last name, their birth date, then click Create Account. When you do, you will see a list of their other friends who are also using the app.
Decide who they talk to
You can choose which other children you would like your child to connect with and add them. (When you add another child to chat with yours, Messenger will send their parents’ a notification and they will have to accept your add request before your child and theirs can start chatting.) If you cannot see anyone your child can chat with, you can invite your children’s friends’ parents to Messenger Kids to create an account.
Add other adults to manage your child account
You can also add adults that you would allow your children to talk to such as their family members. If you need help guarding the account, you can add one of the adults to help manage the account with you.
To make it easier for your children to find and connect with their friends, Messenger Kids uses 4-word codes that are generated for each child’s account. They can share this account with their friends so they can find them easily on messenger. If they add other kids or another kid adds them through a 4-word code, worry not, you still have to approve their add request before they can start chatting.
Allow Messenger Kids to send notifications, access photos and videos, and access the camera and microphone so they can video chat with others. Once you do, Accept the app’s terms and conditions and you’re done!
To make your child’s experience better, you can add nicknames to the contacts so for example, you can add the nickname “grandpa” to their grandfather so they can easily find and connect with them.
Let your kid enjoy
You are done! Give your child’s device back to them and introduce them to the app so they can start chatting with their friends and family.
How to Use Parental Controls After set-up?
To monitor your child’s activities, Facebook gives you parental control through a control panel. Using your own gadget, go to the Facebook app and find the Messenger Kids button that you will find when clicking on “More” on the bottom right corner of the app. From there you can add, block, report users who contact your little one. You can also delete their account if you decide to. Moreover, you can control which hours they can use the app through sleep mode. This method lets you set off times during which they cannot use the Messenger Kids app. When the sleep mode is turned on, your child will not be able to use the app, receive calls or messages notifications, or play with messenger camera.