Facebook Messenger Kids gets more parental controls, available in more countries

The social network's kid-friendly messenger adds features that let kids stay connected and safe online.

Alexandra Garrett Associate Editor
Alexandra is an associate editor on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, and interned with CNET's Tech and News teams while in school. Prior to joining CNET full time, Alexandra was a breaking news fellow at Newsweek, where she covered current events and politics.
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As we continue to practice social distancing and schools remain closed, social media is playing a more critical role in kids staying connected with friends and family. With that in mind, Facebook Messenger Kids has added new parental controls and is now available in more countries. 

Starting Wednesday, Facebook Messenger Kids, an app that lets kids between 6 and 12 years old send text messages and have video chats, will be available in more than 70 new countries. The kid-friendly messenger will also include new parental controls that allow kids to stay in touch with their friends, family, coaches and teachers while staying safe online. 

Read more: Best apps to put on your kid's phone to keep them safe online during quarantine

Facebook Messenger Kids now has Supervised Friending, which allows parents to simultaneously manage their child's contact list and give their kid more independence, Facebook said in its announcement. Before the update, only parents could invite and approve contacts, but now parents can choose to allow their child to accept, reject, add or remove contacts from their list. 

The update added a feature that allows kids to connect through groups. This feature allows parent-approved adults, like teachers or coaches, to help their kids connect with other kids. These approved adults can only connect kids whose parents have already granted the same approval. Right now this feature is only available in the US, but Facebook plans to gradually release it to other countries. 

Facebook made it easier for kids to connect with other kids, too, by letting parents choose to make their kids' name and profile photos visible to friends of their kids' contacts, kids of the parents' Facebook friends and the kids of people parents invite to download the Messenger Kids app. This feature is also limited to the US, Canada and Latin America, but Facebook has plans to make this feature available to the rest of the world in the coming weeks. 

Watch this: Facebook is making big changes to fight COVID-19 in your neighborhood

Correction, 12:40 p.m. PT: A previous version of this story incorrectly explained how the feature connecting kids through groups works.