Last year, Facebook launched a somewhat controversial Messenger app for children called, appropriately, Messenger Kids. Now, the company is introducing new features and expanding availability for the app. Parents in Canada and Peru can sign their children up for Messenger Kids, and the app is available in both Spanish and French as well as English.
Facebook has also been working with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to help boost the social and emotional learning features of the app. The resulting new additions to the app include a Messenger Kids Pledge, urging users to be kind, be respectful, be safe and have fun, as well as a new set of stickers to promote being kind to others.
Another feature called Appreciation Mission will roll out soon. It's an interactive guide within the Messenger Kids app that will help kids learn to express appreciation for friends and family.
Facebook is also introducing more parental control features. Now, more than one parent can have control over a child's Messenger account. The company promises to continue taking parental feedback into account and making adjustments to controls as necessary.
It's clear that Facebook is intent on helping its younger users use its platform in a positive manner. It makes sense; after all, the Messenger Kids app has come under fire for marketing to children, even as child development experts have concerns about the impact of social media and overuse of digital technology on kids. And in an era of rampant online harassment and abuse, a reminder to be kind to one another isn't the worst thing.