Facebook launches Messenger Kids app in Canada

Facebook Messenger Kids launches in Canada, Peru, adds 'kindness' features

"It's why we engaged in conversations with many groups in the year leading up to the launch and we have continued doing so this year as we prepared to bring the app to families in Canada and Peru", a Facebook spokesperson tells Business Insider. Messenger Kids is now available for download in Canada and Peru after being USA-exclusive since December 2017.

Critics say Messenger Kids serves to lure kids into harmful social media use and to hook young people on Facebook as it tries to compete with Snapchat or its own Instagram app. It also does not have any advertisement and protects children's online privacy, according to Facebook.

The centre's director, John Lawford, argued that Facebook has not adequately explained how it will use the information it collects when kids use the app. 20 organizations including CCFC, ACLU, and others, rallied together and submitted a letter to the social media company calling them irresponsible and requested the app to be taken down.

"Research suggests that young people who are heavy users of social media - spending more than two hours per day on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress", the study stated.

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Messenger Kids was first made available in the United States at the end of a year ago, and has been pitched as a means for parents to let their kids chat with close friends and family in a safer and more controlled environment than other messaging apps.

WATCH: Would you let your kids use Facebook's new messenger app?

Facebook on Friday said it will also introduce Spanish and French versions of the app to all three countries where the app is available.

Facebook said it was working in collaboration with researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a global group of advisors to develop "Appreciation Mission", an interactive guide within the app that will encourage kids to discover and express appreciation for their friends and family.

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