Disclaimer :: Messenger Kids sponsored this blog post, however, the opinions and paragraphs belong to the writer.
Staying in touch with family over the holidays is challenging, with busy schedules made busier by parties, events, and expectations. Come to think of it, between Thanksgiving and today I think I’ve called my mom, what… maybe once? But I sometimes forget that when I fail to connect with faraway family, the little people in my house miss out on these special relationships as well! Which is why finding a safe way for our kids to independently communicate with relatives around the country is such a precious gift!
With Messenger Kids we have found just that: a safer, kid-friendly way for our children to stay in touch with their family and faraway friends without the dangers of mainstream social media.
Crossing the Digital Bridge
As the mom of an almost nine-year-old girl, I am painfully aware that social media will one day be an important part of her life. And as much as I’d like to push that back as long as possible, the reality is that this technology is already an important and necessary part of her generation. It is not a matter of if she will be using it, only a matter of when.
Having a safe place to dip our toes in among a handful of trusted ‘friends’ is exactly what this momma needs to aid that transition. And what better time to start than during the holidays when my kids WANT to be connected to their loved ones!
Why Messenger Kids?
First of all, Messenger Kids is a great way for kids to connect with friends and family in a fun, creative environment that gives ME more control! Because my daughter’s account is registered under my Facebook profile, I can see her conversations, her friends, her invitations, and her usage settings. But because it’s also her personal space, she gets to make it her own! She can set up her backgrounds, play with kid-friendly filters, and begin figuring out who she is in a digital world — no stalkers allowed. (She’s really excited to try out the new Holiday artwork and AR Filters!)
Secondly, Messenger Kids is NOT a social media account (like Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat). No one can see her profile or “follow” or “like” her. It is simply a way for a trusted group of kids to communicate using one-on-one or group video chat and messaging. It’s a place where they get to laugh, play, and stay in touch with their friends and family, all while parents have insight into how they are using the app.
Finally, we love how the parental restrictions on her iPad also apply to her Messenger Kids app. If she wants to choose messaging or video chatting with family as part of her daily screen time, we’re all for it! But even if there weren’t already restrictions on her device, the app itself has a sleep mode in which parents can set time limits and “off times.” We love the additional control and the peace of mind that comes with this app.
My daughter already has an iPad, so Messenger Kids was only a download away in the App Store. The Facebook app never needed to be installed. I simply approved her device when I setup her account. My husband and I can check in on her messages, block friends, or disable her account at any time. Messenger Kids is also available on Apple, Android, and Amazon Fire Tablet!
We love that Messenger Kids is available to all of my Facebook contacts. As I value and cherish my network of distant friends and family, I want my daughter to have that opportunity as well, especially around the holidays! With Messenger Kids we began by connecting her with cousins and close family friends that we trusted the most. We also ensured that the primary goal for now is keeping in touch with loved ones, not chatting it up with school friends she sees every day. This seemed like the most natural way to ease our daughter into the world of digital communication.
And did I mention you can check in on their messages? No private snapchats or public tik-toks. No hiding or deleting texts. No creepy followers. As long as we parents maintain an open conversation about their app usage, much of the risk is eliminated. But if that’s not enough, Messenger Kids also has a reporting system available to help train children to use their best judgment when online. Using kid-friendly language, users can block or report any “friend” who is acting inappropriately or in a way that makes the child feel uncomfortable. Just another way parental control and child safety are at the heart of Messenger Kids.
The Gift of Family
This holiday season we probably won’t be buying our nearly-nine-year-old an iPhone, but we will be extending her social reach a bit. Connecting her with cousins that she misses dearly, equipping her with valuable technology skills that will be necessary to maneuver well in the coming years, and giving her the freedom to express herself in a safer, kid-friendly environment… these are gifts that money can’t buy.
Below you’ll find instructions on how to download the app and some recommended reading to give you background on Messenger Kids:
- Introducing Messenger Kids, a New App For Families to Connect
- Hard Questions: So Your Kids Are Online, But Will They Be Alright?
- Sleep Mode: Giving Parents More Control on Messenger Kids
Installing & setup
The app is free and can be downloaded from any of the app stores:
To set it up:
- Download the Messenger Kids app to your child’s phone or tablet.
- Authenticate your child’s device using your Facebook login.
- This will not create a Facebook account for your child.
- Create an account for your child by adding their name.
- Parental controls are available in the Parent Dashboard in your main Facebook app.
- Through the Parent Dashboard, you can add contacts for your kid’s chat set on and off times through the Sleep Mode feature.