Facebook is adding a “sleep” mode to its Messenger Kids service to let parents limit when their children can use it.
Parents can now specify the times children are not allowed on—either as a one-time restriction or at regular times such as after 9pm every school night. While the app is on sleep mode, children will get a message when they open it telling them so, and they will not be able to use it.
Facebook created a child-friendly version of its Messenger app in December. It has no ads and gives parents plenty of control over who children can chat to. The thinking was that while the regular app is designed for people aged 13 or over, younger children were on it anyway.
It is the latest concession from tech companies as critics question whether they should be targeting children at all. Rather than killing the services completely, as some critics want, Facebook, Amazon and Google are mostly tinkering at the edges. That leaves open the underlying questions of whether their products truly serve a need for the very youngest, and whether they are good for them.