Facebook wants to make it easier for parents to ensure their kids aren’t spending all day, every day on their phones. In that spirit, the company has launched a new feature in the Messenger Kids app that allows parents to set times when their kids aren’t allowed to use the app. The new feature is called Sleep Mode, and it’s rolling out now.
Messenger Kids, which was launched late last year, is meant to be installed on a child’s device, but is linked to their parents account, allowing the parents to monitor their child’s online activity. The app has been a little controversial given growing concerns about the impact of social media in children, and some have called on Facebook to scrap the app altogether. The ability to limit the app’s usage seems like Facebook’s answer to those concerns — though perhaps not the answer everyone was looking for.
Using Sleep Mode is pretty easy. Parents simply need to go into the control center in their account, where they can see their kids’ accounts and adjust the settings for those accounts. There they can specify when kids aren’t allowed to use the app. There are preset options, like “during the week,” or parents can set specific hours. From the control panel, you can also completely delete your child’s account, if you so choose.
Messenger Kids is a little different than the standard Facebook Messenger. It doesn’t require the child to create an account, and it puts a heavier emphasis on colorful filters and GIFs. Parents can control things like the child’s contact list, and can see the messages that kids are sending — which can’t be hidden and don’t disappear.
Facebook says it has gone a long way to ensure that the app is safe for kids to use — and that it’s compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. There are no ads in Facebook Messenger Kids, and Facebook says it won’t collect any information from kids to be used for advertising. Not only that, but the app is also free and does not have any in-app purchases — so kids can’t accidentally buy things within the app.