Messenger Kids, Facebook’s chat app for children ages six to 12, is getting a sleep mode so parents can have more control over how much time a child spends using the app.
With the new sleep mode, parents can set predetermined times when the app can’t be used on a child’s device, such as at night, or during homework time. Sleep mode can be accessed from the parental control panel, where weekdays or weekends can be selected, followed by the sleep mode’s start and stop time. When sleep mode is enabled, kids won’t get any notifications, can’t play with the app’s camera, and won’t be able to send or receive messages. If they try to open the app, a message will tell them it’s in sleep mode and to try again later.
Messenger Kids has been controversial since its launch in December, with more than 100 child development experts, health advocacy groups, educators, and parents calling for the app to be shut down. The app does not require a Facebook account and primarily offers video and text chat with colorful, playful filters and GIFs. Within Messenger Kids, parents can control a child’s contact list, and messages sent on the app can’t be hidden and don’t disappear.
Facebook has said it has gone to great lengths to make sure the app is safe for children and compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, or COPPA. “There are no ads in Messenger Kids and your child’s information isn’t used for ads. It is free to download and there are no in-app purchases,” Facebook wrote in a blog post.