In an effort to give more control to parents, Facebook has launched a Sleep Mode in its Messenger Kids that will allow parents to set predetermined "off times" for the app on a child's device. When the app is in Sleep Mode, kids cannot send or receive messages or video calls, play with the creative camera or receive notifications. If they try to open the app, they'll see a message telling them that it's in sleep mode and to come back later.
"Parents told us they would like controls that make the app inaccessible at a certain time, like during dinner, homework time or bedtime. We took this feedback to heart and built a feature that gives that level of control to parents," Tarunya Govindarajan, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a blog post.
With Sleep Mode, parents can set a designated off time and each day at the designated time, the app will "go to sleep" and not be accessible to kids during those hours. The mode is controlled from the Parent Control centre in the parent's Facebook account and the "off times" can be changed at any time.
How Messenger Kids' Sleep Mode works
Go to the Messenger Kids controls in the main Facebook app. Tap on the child's name, and then on Sleep Mode in the App Controls' section. Now, set the times you want the app to turn off for your child.
You can set different times for weekdays versus weekends. Once you set the limits, the child will not be able to use the app during those hours. Parents can access all of their controls from the Messenger Kids controls in the main Facebook app.
"In addition to Sleep Mode, parents can add and remove contacts, delete the child's account, or create a new account right from the control panel," the post added.
Since its launch in December 2017, Messenger Kids is facing widespread criticism for encouraging children to join social media. Child health experts the world over have written to Facebook to withdraw the app designed specifically for children under the age of 13.
British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in December warned the social media giant to stay away from his children.
"Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!" Hunt had posted on Twitter.