Facebook made a Messenger app that's just for kids

Vladimir Smirnov  Getty Images

The company announced a new app on Monday for children as young as six years old.

This experience is tailored to devices that are given to kids, not the smartphones or tablets that parents use, which may already have a Messenger app installed. Parents will only be able to see Messenger Kids accounts connected to their own Facebook friends.

If your kid loves playing around with Snapchat face filters, they're probably going to be stoked about Messenger Kids. But parents dictate who their kids can and can't talk to.

Unlike the regular Messenger app, the Kids version doesn't require the user - the child in this case - to have a Facebook account or phone number. Facebook is launching the app today in preview with a limited rollout on iOS.

Messenger Kids, which is available for now only on Apple products, allows children to video chat with individuals or with a groups of people. Facebook says Messenger Kids is also created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA.

Add contacts: To add people to your child's approved contact list, go to the Messenger Kids parental controls panel in your main Facebook app.

Messenger Kids is launching in preview today for iPhone and iPad users in the USA and will be targeting 6 to 13-year-olds with a child-friendly alternative to the main Messenger app. Parents have to use their own Facebook credentials to authenticate a device for use with the new Messenger Kids app, and parents have full and final say over who the kid is able to connect with through Messenger. But, per the app's privacy policy, Facebook reserves the right to share information with third parties, which must in turn prove to Facebook that they have strong privacy policies to protect children. It's created to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).

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Parents have to use their Facebook email address and password to activate their child's account, but that does not log a parent into their child's device. Facebook said it plans to launch the app in the Amazon App Store and Google Play "in the coming months".

It is now only available on iOS in the USA, but will be rolled out to Google Play Store and Amazon App Store in the next few months. It also met with parents across the U.S.to hear the major concerns about their kids using technology.

"We want to help ensure the experiences our kids have when using technology are positive, safer, and age- appropriate, and we believe teaching kids how to use technology in positive ways will bring better experiences later as they grow", the company said.

Messenger Kids may be completely separate from Facebook's other apps, but a lot of the parental management happens through Facebook.

How - and if - the app ends up getting used remains to be seen.

Children can block and report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, which will immediately notify parents.

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