Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is looking to expand its horizons. It announced Monday morning that it would be launching a new messaging app for children. The new app is called Messenger Kids and is targeting kids under the age of 13, who can’t yet have their own accounts under the terms of service rules on Facebook.
This new app allows for kids under the age of 13 to chat with their parents and friends — approved by their parents.
There is a fair number of parental controls available within the app. For example, the service won’t let children add their own friends or delete messages — only parents can do that. Also kids don’t get a separate Facebook or Messenger account, instead, it’s an extension of a parent’s account.
What stands out here is that there will be no advertisements in this app, so Facebook won’t be making any money off these users. Not to mention that federal law prohibits internet companies from collecting personal information on kids under 13 without their parents’ permission.
The reason behind this move is to recruit kids on to the Facebook platform early on, before they might discover Snapchat or any other competitors. Once the kids would come of age, it seems more likely that they would stick with Facebook than branch out to these other platforms.
Kristelle Lavallee, a children’s psychology expert who advised Facebook on designing the service, believes that this app is a “useful tool” that it “makes parents the gatekeepers.” But she said that while Facebook made the app “with the best of intentions,” it’s not yet known how people will actually use it.
Over the course of 2017, Facebook has outperformed the broad markets, with its stock up about 52%. Shares of Facebook were trading at $176.10 Monday morning. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $207.80 and a 52-week trading range of $114.77 to $184.25.