Need a way for the kids to stay in touch with friends and family through isolation? Facebook Messenger might have a way.
Keeping connected without physically being there can be easy when you’re an adult, but less so if you’re a child. No way fo talking to your friends isn’t likely to be easy, so spare a thought for the little ones desperate to connect, and always asking for your phone to do so.
If you have a spare device like a budget phone or tablet, or maybe even a hand-me-down, you might have already set up the little ones on a chat system.
However if you’ve been reluctant to do so far, it might be because chat and messaging systems made for adults aren’t made for children, and so might make it easier for your kids to start talking to your friends randomly. That’s hardly in the best interests of everyone, so a messaging system that you can apply a parental touch to is a sound approach.
Facebook is launching one of those in Australia this week, a few years after having tried the concept in the US and Canada. Back in 2017, Facebook launched Messenger Kids, which is essentially a redesigned version of the Facebook Messenger platform, but specifically focused on little ones aged 6 to 12. Technically, there’s nothing stopping anyone younger from using the platform, and you can get your two year old using Messenger Kids, with the same approach applied here.
That approach is a version of Facebook Messenger made to be a little more colourful and with parent-approved contact listings, whereby your kids get their very own Messenger account, but that you — the parent — have to approve who they can talk to. It might be you, your partner, relatives, or even the kids belonging to friends, as those accounts will be picked up by Messenger Kids when the account is being setup.
In the end, Messenger Kids essentially creates an account system that allows you to designate who your children speak to, and who they can play with masks, filters, and emojis in the online environment.
Parents won’t need the Messenger Kids app to play, either, and will just get the message through the regular Messenger app as they would any other message.
Essentially, Messenger Kids uses the same platform, but merely locks down who your kids can talk to and makes everything a little more colourful and playful.
Some of that playfulness comes from virtual games such as raising a pet, drawing things and guessing what’s being drawn, and learning healthy habits, while it might just be applying filters and masks over the camera and taking some fun selfies.
As for how parents set it up, they’ll need to download the app on a phone or tablet for their kids, and then login briefly using their Facebook Messenger account. Don’t worry, the kids won’t have access to your account; rather, it’s just an initial setup to associate you as a parent and designate who they can talk to.
Once that’s done and setup is all good, your child can talk to friends and family digitally. From there, how often you choose to let them use the messaging platform comes down to your choices as a parent, with screen time likely playing a part.
Messenger Kids is available now, however, available for both Android and iOS.