Facebook's Messenger app for kids launched in December, though only for iOS, and last month, Facebook made it available for Amazon Fire tablets. Now, TechCrunch reports, and Facebook confirmed to us, that Messenger Kids will be available for Android devices starting today. The app gives parents the control over who their kids talk to, allowing them to add or delete contacts, and sends them notifications if their children report or block anyone they've been chatting with. For kids, the app provides them with a way to text or video chat with their friends and family while offering all of the visual fun of GIFs, frames, emojis and masks. And maybe the best part, kids don't need a Facebook account to use it, only their parents do. However, the app has drawn skepticism from those concerned about exposing kids to social media and overuse of digital technology.
Messenger Kids for Android will be available today through Google Play. Facebook says the app will also have a slew of Valentine's Day-themed masks, stickers and frames for users to play with.
Update: The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood released a statement today about the wider rollout of Messenger Kids. Two weeks ago, it sent a letter to Facebook detailing its concerns with Messenger Kids and requested that the company discontinue the app. The organization said today that it hasn't received a response from Facebook and neither, to its knowledge, have any of its letter's 117 signatories. "It is disturbing that Facebook, in the face of widespread concern, is aggressively marketing Messenger Kids to even more children," CCFC said in a statement. "Facebook's decision to double down on Messenger Kids without consideration for the concerns raised by child development experts reveals that the company is far more interested in increasing its market share than in having a constructive dialogue about what is best for children."