Mom and daughter using Facebook Messenger Kids

We’ve all heard of Facebook Messenger and possibly even the new Messenger Desktop App.  But Facebook has another Messenger platform that’s gaining in popularity amid the COVID-19 crisis: Messenger Kids.  

Messenger Kids is a fresh take on the traditional Messenger app, redesigned with kids (and parental control) in mind.  Kids are able to connect to their friends and family members in a safe and secure environment through text or video chats, keeping them socially connected even when they can’t see their family or friends in person.  

Facebook has done a good job of creating an app that’s both kid and parent-friendly.  The application requires parental authorization to activate the account even though it is its own standalone platform installed onto the child’s device. Additionally, only parents and guardians can control who gains access to the child’s Messenger Kids account.  The app features additional kid-approved entertainment features like a “virtual pet,” in-app games (but don’t worry, no in-app purchases), virtual drawing, and custom color schemes. 

Parental Control

Messenger Kids is 100% parent-controlled and managed through the Parent Dashboard. This dashboard is accessible only through the parent’s Facebook mobile app.  Parents are able to add, confirm, or remove contacts, see who their child is communicating with, see images being sent or received by the child’s account, set a sleep timer that disables the app at certain times, and even download all data in the child’s account (parents and guardians can also see all chat history in the child’s Messenger Kids).

Facebook Messenger Kids: Safe Practices

It’s natural to be hesitant about allowing a child to connect to a video and text messaging application. There are steps that can be taken in order to ensure the child is engaging in a safe and protected chat environment.

This first tip is a no-brainer, but nonetheless, it’s worth saying: pay close attention to who is allowed to connect to the child’s account.  Before allowing any account to connect to the child’s account, it is a good idea to review their name and photo carefully. It is also a good idea to confirm with the person who is requesting to connect to the child’s account through some non-Facebook form of communication like a text message or an email.  This way, the parent or guardian can be certain that the request to connect is valid.  

It is also recommended to review the chat history (including images being sent and received) on a regular basis.  Not only does this help parents and guardians keep tabs on the child’s activity, but it can also make them aware of any issues that need addressing such as cyberbullying or other harmful behaviors.  If a child feels like they do not need to be talking to someone who has access to their account, they have the ability to block this user. If this happens, the parents or guardians who manage the account will be notified immediately.  They can also see a list of all blocked accounts in the Parent Dashboard.

Getting Started With Facebook Messenger Kids

Step One:  Download the Facebook Messenger Kids app from the App Store, Amazon AppStore, or Google Play Store onto the device that the child will be using. 

Step Two:  Authorization:  The app won’t create a Facebook account for the child.  Instead, the adult setting up the account must confirm that they are the Parent or Guardian of the child and then authorize the Facebook Messenger Kids account using their personal Facebook login credentials.

Facebook Messenger Kids setup

Step Three:  Next they’ll be asked to enter the child’s name and birthday (the birthday can be skipped), and agree to some upfront terms and conditions before finishing the account setup.

Step Four:  After setting up the account, they’ll be given the option to connect the Messenger Kids account to other Messenger Kids accounts, adults on Facebook Messenger, or to send an invitation to parents of the child’s friends if they aren’t already on Messenger Kids.  Please note that once the account is active, the Parent Dashboard is where they’ll be able to manage every person the child is able to connect with on the app.

Step Five: Next, they will be given the option of adding another Parent/Guardian to manage the Messenger Kids account.  They can also create a unique four-word code that the child can give to their friends, allowing the friends to use the code in order to request parental permission to connect with the child. 

Facebook Messenger Kids Setup

Finishing setup:   Lastly, the child will have the opportunity to add their photo and customize the color scheme of the app.  They’ll then be directed to the app’s home page where they can take a tour of the features and functionality.  

Facebook Support

As with all social media platforms, support is eventually going to be needed.  What happens if help is needed with a Facebook account? While Facebook doesn’t offer live customer service, they do offer Messenger Kids parent resources available HERE. Help Center articles specifically for Facebook Messenger Kids are available HERE.  If the issue is with the adult’s account, the general Facebook Help Center can be found HERE.  It’s important to note that the Help Center is completely self-serve; users won’t have any guidance in solving their issue.  

If you want actual help resolving an issue, fig social is the world’s first Live, On-Demand, 24/7 Facebook Support service!  Whether you need to Recover a Disabled Account or you believe your Account has been Hacked, we can help you. CLICK HERE to learn more about what we do and how we can help you with your Facebook Account Problems.

We’ve also put together some resources to help with common Facebook issues: A guide to what to do if your Account is Hacked (CLICK HERE to read); How to generate a Secure Facebook Password (CLICK HERE to check it out); A library of Facebook Support How-To videos (CLICK HERE to see all 20 videos).

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