Facebook rolled out Monday a version of its popular Messenger app for kids under 13.
Messenger Kids is an app where kids can talk or text with family or friends, allowing parents to control the experience through their Facebook account.
This is the first time Facebook has developed an app specifically for kids. Loren Cheng, Facebook’s product management director, said the company consulted with several groups including parents, experts in child development and children’s media, in creating the app.
“When we heard about the need for better apps directly from parents during research and conversations with parents, we knew we needed to develop it alongside with the people who were going to use it, as well as experts who could help guide our thinking,” Cheng said in a statement.
The move seems designed to lure kids to the app before they try Facebook rival Snapchat, which is popular with teens. But it’s raised questions over whether it’s wise for kids to start on social media that young.
YouTube has recently received criticism over concerns with its Kids app, which features videos tailored toward children. However, several reports have surfaced showing inappropriate videos streaming through to kids. YouTube responded by turning off comments on 625,000 videos and deleting 150,000 videos.
Once parents download the Facebook app to their child’s iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone, they will authenticate it with their Facebook account. Then you can add their name and approved contacts.
Messenger Kids is only available on iOS, but will launch on Amazon and Google app stores in the coming months.
Kids will be able to send photos, videos or other messages to relatives or other contacts accessible through the primary Messenger app, and vice versa.
Kids will also have access to GIFs, stickers and other content Facebook said has been vetted to ensure it’s appropriate for children.