Facebook is opening up for children younger than 13 with Messenger Kids, a privacy-focused app that allows kids to chat with friends and family — with parental approval and monitoring.

Facebook is opening up for children younger than 13 with Messenger Kids, a privacy-focused app that allows kids to chat with friends and family — with parental approval and monitoring.

This new ad-free app “makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends when they can’t be together in person,” said Loren Cheng, Facebook product management director.

“After talking to thousands of parents, associations like National PTA and parenting experts in the U.S., we found that there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want.”

Tweens don’t need a Facebook account or even their own phone number to use the app. Parents download it on a child’s phone or tablet, create a profile, and approve who a child can text or video chat with through the main Messenger app. Then, the account is authenticated through the parent’s account.

The Messenger Kids home screen shows who kids are approved to talk or send photos to and when contacts are online. It features playful masks, emojis, stickers, frames and sound effects.

Facebook hopes to hit the sweet spot with parents who are concerned about their child’s online activity yet realize the benefits of social media. According to a recent online survey from tech safety nonprofit Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey, Snapchat is the app that causes the most anxiety for parents, followed by Facebook.

Since the app launch, some experts have raised concerns about data security, tech addiction and whether Facebook will use the app to target ads to parents.

“A messenger app for kids under 13 that only parents can sign them up for sounds like a nice idea on its face, but without clear policies about data collection, what happens to the content children post and plans for the future, it is impossible to fully trust the platform,” said James Steyer, founder and chief executive officer of Common Sense Media.

“Why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?”