Facebook Messenger Kids Just Added A New Feature That Will Help Put Parents' Minds At Ease

Back in December, Facebook unveiled Messenger Kids app — and for those who aren't familiar, it's exactly what it sounds like. Basically, parents can set up a Messenger Kids account for their kids through their own Facebook account. This enables children to chat with friends, make video calls with kid-appropriate filters, and send kid-friendly GIFs. Don't freak out, though: There are a number of safeguards in place. Parents have control over who their kid can contact (it has to be a Facebook friend of the parent, and the parent has to approve), and kids aren't searchable on the app. And now, a highly-requested safeguard is also available in the app's parental controls and here's how to use Messenger Kids' sleep mode feature, because it's definitely a sanity saver.

Messenger Kids is geared toward children between the ages of 6 and 12, as CNN reported. It doesn't actually create a Facebook account for these kids, either — contrary to what some parents might fear. "Safety is absolutely the most important concern [and] being able to [know] who they're using the device with," Loredana Crisan, Facebook Messenger's product design director, told CNN. "The ability to connect with only approved contacts is very important for that age range."

Still, parents had plenty of concerns about Messenger Kids and technology addition as a whole, CNET reported. To help put caregivers' minds at ease even further, Facebook recently added even more safeguards. Enter: Sleep mode.

Facebook announced in a blog post on Friday that it has added the option of setting sleep mode restrictions on the app. This means you can essentially lock your kids out of the Messenger Kids app at certain times of the day on certain days of the week. So let's say you don't want your child messing around with the app after 8 p.m. on a school night. (Because let's face it: Even if your family has a "no electronics after a certain time" rule, who knows what they're actually doing if they're still awake past bedtime.) Bam! Your kid can no longer attempt to initiate a video call with grandma at 2 a.m.

Apparently, this is exactly what caregivers have been wanting for quite some time. “Parents told us they would like controls that make the app inaccessible at a certain time, like during dinner, homework time or bedtime, Facebook Product Manager Tarunya Govindarajan, wrote in the blog post, as CNBC reported. "We took this feedback to heart and built a feature that gives that level of control to parents."

So here's the lowdown. You can actually control sleep mode from the Parent Control center via the parent's Facebook account, and the settings can be tweaked anytime. Step-by-step instructions, according to a Facebook blog post, are as follows:

  1. While you're in the Messenger Kids controls within the main Facebook app, tap on your child's name.
  2. Next, tap on "Sleep Mode" in the App Controls section.
  3. Go ahead and set the parameters! You can set different times for sleep mode to start on every day of the week, if you wish. Your child won't be able to use the app — including sending and receiving messages/video calls, playing with the camera, and receiving notifications — during these hours. In fact, if they try opening the app, all they'll see is a message telling them it’s in sleep mode and to come back later.

See? Easy as pie.

My oldest child is 6, and I have Messenger Kids set up on our iPad for him. So far, he's been pretty good about following the rules we've set for him. (Granted, he has forgotten that one of his grandpas likes to sleep in on the weekend — and because my son is an early riser, he has awakened my dad with message pings. Oops.) So yeah. I'm definitely thankful for this new sleep mode tool — and I have a feeling people on kids' contact lists are, too.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.