What is Messenger Kids? Facebook launches video chat and messaging app in Africa

Facebook’s Messenger Kids app is now available in 20 countries across the Middle East and Africa, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Available to download from the Apple App and Google Play Stores, Messenger Kids has been designed for children between the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the app including two new features aimed at helping kids connect with their friends and family.

Parental Control

Facebook says the App targets children who can’t have Facebook accounts, in line with the company’s policies. As such, it has  parental control features which allow parents to customize the app for their children, including being able to edit and change contact lists and be notified if a child blocks or reports another user.

In a statement, the company pointed to its expansion as reflective of people becoming even more reliant on technology during the pandemic. Commenting on the launch, Kojo Boakye, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa said: “We know that parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family online. With privacy, security and parental control at the heart of the app, Messenger Kids provides a safe, fun space, controlled by parents to do exactly that.”

Messenger Kids was created in 2017 in conjunction with Facebook’s Youth Advisors, a team of experts in online safety, child development and media, as well as child safety advocates and educators, to “ensure we’re providing a service that balances parental control with features that help kids learn how to connect responsibly online”.

Some fun features available in Messenger Kids, include:

  • Playful masks, emojis and sound effects bring conversations to life.
  • In addition to video chat, kids can send photos, videos or text messages to their parent-approved friends and adult relatives, who will receive the messages via their regular Messenger app.
  • A library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools to let them decorate content and express their personalities.

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