Child advocates have called for the app’s discontinuation, but Facebook is instead making Messenger Kids more widely available.
In a move that likely won’t go over well with many child advocates, Facebook is making its controversial Messenger Kids app more widely available.
As TechCrunch first reported, the social network launched Messenger Kids on Android today. The app—Facebook’s first built especially for children—hit iOS devices in December and launched on Amazon Fire tablets last month.
More than 100 child advocates and experts—including groups like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, ACLU of Massachusetts, and Parents Across America—have called the app “irresponsible,” especially in light of research indicating that excessive use of social media is detrimental to children and teens. In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg late last month, they urged Facebook to discontinue the app over concerns that it will “undermine children’s healthy development.”
Facebook last month told PCMag it had no plans to discontinue Messenger Kids any time soon. “We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids be the best experience it can be for families,” the company wrote. “We have been very clear that there is no advertising in Messenger Kids.”
As of today, Messenger Kids is available for download in the Google Play store, complete with some new Valentine’s Day-themed stickers.
The ad-free app can be installed on a child’s smartphone or tablet, but controlled from a parent’s Facebook account. When they open up the app, kids see a list of approved contacts they can call for a one-on-one or group video chat.