“Messenger Kids is a video chat and messaging app that helps kids connect with friends and family in a fun, parent-controlled space.
Facebook on Wednesday rolled out its Messenger Kids application to 70 new countries, saying it can help children deal with the challenges of distance learning and isolation during the virus lockdowns.
The app, which is aimed at children under 13, will also be adding a “supervised friending” feature enabling parents to approve new connections, starting in the United States and gradually rolling out to other countries.
“With schools closed and people physically distancing, parents are turning to technology more than ever to help their kids connect with friends and family,” Facebook’s global head of safety Antigone Davis said in a blog post.
Messenger Kids was launched in the United States in 2017 and expanded later to Canada and a handful of other countries, aiming at children too young for a Facebook account.
With the changes announced Wednesday, kids will be able to connect in groups to help facilitate learning, under parental supervision.
Parents in the US, Canada and Latin America can also allow their children to make their name and profile photo visible as part of the move to get more friends.
Some privacy activists have argued the app could be harmful to children by drawing them into online activity and potentially gathering data on them.
The new countries are in various regions of the world and include Afghanistan, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Tuvalu. No European countries are on the list.