But in a blogpost for the launch, Facebook's Loren Cheng said: "Today, parents are increasingly allowing their children to use tablets and smartphones, but often have questions and concerns about how their kids use them and which apps are appropriate". It will instead be exclusively controlled by parents, starting from setting up the child's account to approving contacts from Messenger Kids Controls panel on parents' main Facebook app. The app does collect the content of children's messages, photos they send, features they use, and what device they're using them on, apparently to make life better (for who?) with the app, i.e. improve the functionality of Messenger Kids.
Whether you're a fan of Facebook or not, Messenger Kids is a compelling option if you want ensure your children's safety on social media.
Kids will not show up in Facebook search results, so if a kid wants to chat with a friend, the parent will have to work with the friend's parent to get them both approved.
Parents must then sign off on all their child's contacts, meaning that in theory they can not speak to anyone through the app without parental permission.
The app, called Messenger Kids, is Facebook's first explicit attempt at reaching users below the age of 13, which is the minimum age for creating a normal Facebook account. In a statement, they said: "The preview of Messenger Kids is only available in the U.S., on iOS, it is a completely separate app from Facebook".
But kids, as kids, are learning at the fastest rates they ever will.
Most apps say that kids have to be at least 13, but there's nothing to stop younger children from signing up.
Facebook, however, is also a company focused on marketing and studying user habits.
It seems Facebook is on its way in creating conduit to attract more users and become a regular member of Facebook products, by starting as early as even a 6 year old kid.
"The risk of exposure to things [children] were not developmentally prepared for is huge", said Kristelle Lavallee, a children's psychology expert who worked with Facebook to develop the app, reports The Guardian. This is why Facebook and many other social media companies prohibit younger kids from joining. The rules for traditional Facebook services will not change.
Messenger Kids comes here with a swing and slew of the controls for their parents. Though, there are a few issues with this initial release, Facebook is taking steps in the right direction with Messenger Kids in that it keeps strangers out.