Facebook Messenger Kids has been giving parents and their children a supervised channel of communication since 2017. While parents have had a final say in who their kids are talking to (and what messages/images they are sending and receiving), a few new safety features are on the way. Messenger Kids announced a new parent dashboard. Some of the features that parents were previously able to access on their child’s device are now available to view in one place in a more streamlined manner on their own device. “It’s just the convenience of where they can see that,” says Nitya Madhavan, marketing lead on Messenger Kids, which is geared at kids 6-12 years old.
Madhavan and Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, tell PEOPLE that the upgrades emerged from continued talks with parents and their children about how to improve the Messenger Kids experience, which now resembles “technology on training wheels”, as Davis puts it. “Last year we were in Dallas talking to some kids and their parents and a few of them actually said, ‘You know, we like the fact that our parents have control and that they get to decide who I speak to and they’re able to see what I see,’” Madhavan says. “They like the fact that mom and dad are there when they need them, that they can pop in when they need them. Funny enough, they’re also like, ‘I like that I can say, “My mom said I couldn’t do something,”’ you know, and they like using that as an excuse.”
The app now features a remote device logout. So with a one-click, all accounts that the child has logged into will be logged out. That also gives the parents an opportunity to download all of their child’s information, including a list of contacts, texts, images or videos they’ve received.
“I really think about it as a digital playground,” Madhavan says. “If you think about a playground in real life, kids are on that playground playing with each other, having fun, interacting with each other. But when you look around the playground, parents are on that periphery. They’re watching, they’re supervising, they’re ready to jump in if they’re needed, but they really are allowing and watching kids have each other. And that’s really what Messenger Kids is in a digital space.”