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Facebook launches ‘Messenger Kids’

(NBC News) Wherever there’s a kid, chances are there’s a mobile device close by, and increasingly the digital offerings on those devices cater to young users, including a new app recently launched by Facebook.

The app called “Messenger Kids” is made for children 6 to 12 years old.

“There’s a lot of apps that have content and entertainment for kids but Facebook is definitely the biggest company to come out and kind of target this kind of demographic for something like a communication app,” said Kurt Wagner, Recode Social Media Expert.

The app connects to a parent’s Facebook account, allowing them to control who their child can talk to and monitor conversations.

The response has been mixed.

“A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of Facebook reaching out and trying to get a product in the hands of their young child,” said Wagner.

To comply with federal law, social media sites including Facebook have an age restriction of 13 or older to make a profile, but that’s hard to enforce.

According to Consumer Reports, 7.5 million Facebook users are children under that age.

“Facebook’s argument is that ‘hey someone is going to start building these kinds of products, we think we can do it in a safe way,” said Wagner. “People are uncomfortable with it right now, but I think over time Facebook’s not going to be the only one so we’re going to see a lot more of this.”

Facebook says Messanger Kids will not have ads or collect data for marketing purposes, but the company can still make money down the line by getting users in early.