Messenger Kids, Facebook’s chat app for children ages 6 to 12, is getting a sleep mode so parents can have more control over how much time a child spends using the app. The idea is that parents and children will talk about when it’s appropriate to send messages to friends and family, and when it’s time for other activities.
When sleep mode is enabled, kids won’t get any notifications, can’t play with the app’s camera, and won’t be able to send or receive messages.
The app, which launched last December, has not been without controversy. More than 100 child development experts, health advocacy groups, educators, and parents are calling for the app to be shut down. The app does not require a Facebook account and primarily offers video and text chat with colorful, playful filters and GIFs. Within Messenger Kids, parents can control a child’s contact list, and messages sent on the app can’t be hidden and don’t disappear.
Facebook has said it has gone to great lengths to make sure the app is safe for children and compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. “There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” Facebook wrote in a blog post.
Messenger Kids is a free download on iOS and Android.