"There's really a gap in the market for a messaging app for kids that also gives parents control", Facebook spokeswoman Lauren Svensson said.
However, even as Facebook was rolling out the kiddie chat app, the adult version of Facebook Messenger went down briefly, and as usual users were panicky and took to Twitter to air their grievances.
It's important to note that kids under 13 are still not allowed to sign up for a Facebook account. Messenger Kids has parental controls and policies in place to ban inappropriate content and cyberbullying, but that doesn't make the service exempt from Facebook's pattern of moderation failures or the broader evils of the interweb. Moreover, kids can also use the Messenger Kids app to make video calls safely.
Children using Facebook Kids will also be able to access "a library of kid-appropriate and specially chosen GIFs, frames, stickers, masks and drawing tools lets them decorate content and express their personalities", the company said.
Facebook Messenger suffered a similar outage on November 30 when users reported being unable to send messages.
"To give kids and parents a fun, safer solution, we built Messenger Kids, a standalone app that lives on kids' tablets or smartphones but can be controlled from a parent's Facebook account".
If two children want to be friends on Messenger Kids, that friendship has to be approved by a parent for each child.
The move seems created to lure kids to the app before they try Facebook rival Snapchat, which is popular with teens.
"My concern is safety, getting friend requests from people you don't know, chatting with people you don't know, giving out information to strangers", one parent participant in the National PTA roundtable said. Parents control kids accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel in their main Facebook app.
Messenger Kids is available in the App Store for United States iOS users with plans for it to go live on Google Play and the Amazon App Store in the coming months.