Facebook Messenger Kids, a version of the popular messaging apps with built-in child safety protections, is getting new features today in the US – while the previous version is being rolled out to a further 70 countries …

The app was first launched in the US back in 2017, suffered a major security bug in 2019 and gave parents greater supervisory powers earlier this year.

The new features are:

  • Supervised Friending
  • Approved Adults
  • Easier connections

Previously, kids had no ability to add new contacts – that had to be done for them by their parent or guardian. With Supervised Friending, children can issue and accept contact invitations. However, parents will still be notified, and can choose to override.

Parents have told us they want to be able to give their kids more independence in managing their contact list while still maintaining parental supervision. Previously, it was up to parents to invite and approve every contact for their child. Now with Supervised Friending, parents can choose to allow their kids to also accept, reject, add or remove contacts, while maintaining the ability to override any new contact approvals from the Parent Dashboard. Supervised Friending will start rolling out today in the US and will gradually roll out to the rest of the world […]

“This is a powerful opportunity and teachable moment for parents to have a conversation with their kids about the life-long skill of choosing one’s friends, both face to face and online,” said Dr. Bernstein. “In addition to allowing parents more ways to manage their child’s messaging experience, Supervised Friending develops kids’ autonomy to decide who they do or don’t want to connect with, while parents can observe, provide guidance and step in as necessary.”

Approved Adults means that parents will be able to grant specific individuals the ability to add their children to groups. This feature is primarily intended for use by teachers while schools are closed.

Kids often build community through their classes at school, participating in a team sport or other extracurricular activities. Just as parents allow a teacher or coach to help their child navigate classroom or team friendships, this new feature gives parents the choice to approve a similar adult to help connect their child with other kids through a group in Messenger Kids. These approved adults can only connect kids whose parents have also granted this adult the same approval. This feature will be available starting today in the US, and will gradually roll out to the rest of the world. Teachers, coaches, parents and other leaders can access this feature here.

“Successful distance learning depends not only on educational content, but social emotional support as well,” said Kathleen Lucchesi, Khan Academy Teacher Ambassador and math department chair at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, California. “As a teacher, I know my students are missing their friends and daily classroom interactions. I’m excited to use this new feature to help my kids have fun, stay connected and build camaraderie virtually.”

Easier connections are facilitated by giving parents the option of allowing their child’s name and profile photo to be visible to a select group of non-contacts.

Parents […] can now choose to make their kid’s name and profile photo visible to friends of their kid’s contacts and their parents, kids of the parent’s Facebook friends, and kids of people parents invite to download the Messenger Kids app.

This feature is also available in Canada and Latin America, and will roll out to other countries in the next few weeks.

Finally, Facebook Messenger Kids is rolling out to more than 70 new countries.

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