8 Messaging Apps Your Tween May be Using

Jan 29, 2017

Tweens talk—a lot. While you likely still use the traditional format of a phone call or text message, these young digital natives are turning to third party messaging apps to chat and share with their friends.

These apps come with a handful of extra features, including the ability to chat with video and create their own virtual world at the same time. The following list will give you a better idea of the features and safety regulations of the messaging apps your tweens may be using.

Google Duo

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This app, for iOS and Android (despite what the name may suggest), turns chatting into a video experience, much like Facetime or Facebook video chat. Once downloaded, users connect the app to their phone number, choose to import contacts and customize their notification settings. The video feature can be turned off in settings, and your tweens can talk on Wi-Fi to avoid using too much data.

As a Google product, their safety and privacy settings are the same as they are for every Google product. You can read about them here.

PopJam

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This is the social media platform for all kids—including those under the age of 13—and allows users to post drawings, animations, and images. When browsing within the app, tweens can look through their feed, which is full of uploads from the channels they follow, including users they’re following and other verified channels. The verified channels represent companies, brands or celebrities.

The app is monitored 24 hours a day by a staff of dedicated moderators. There’s also pre-moderation which holds any questionable posts in a queue until manually approved. Learn more about their safety settings here.

Marco Polo Video Walkie Talkie

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Similar to Google Duo, this is strictly a video-messaging app with no feeds or content sharing. Once users import all contacts they can make video calls. Tweens should be careful not to send “invites” to everyone on their contact list, which can happen accidentally. While this app is relatively straightforward, the Privacy Policy does say that videos are collected and stored, but not where or for how long.

Take a look before letting your kids download, and be with them while setting up, to make sure they don’t check any boxes without realizing.

Kuddle

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This photo-forward sharing platform does not appear to be COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant. COPPA states that personally identifiable information, such as full name or photos, cannot be obtained until after a parent’s authorization has been given. However, the child’s full name is required to register and though children have to input a parent’s email, they can begin using the app right away.

Despite this security hiccup, the app is a great way to allow younger children access to a social sharing platform. You are notified via email whenever they post a photo and add a friend, giving you oversight into their activities within the app.

Woozworld

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This app was developed as a partner to the Woozworld website for teens and tweens. The focus of this app is not the messaging, though your tween can chat with other users. Rather, it’s used to design outfits and create a virtual world for the users’ avatar.

Tween are giving the option to buy various items while wandering around this Sims-like world, so be sure they don’t have your credit card or change the purchasing settings. While the app says filters and rules are used to keep chat safe, Common Sense Media’s review suggests that some users to try to get around them.

Yo.

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This simple messaging app is just that—a bare bones way to get in touch with people, whether your kids are letting you know they arrived at their destination or need to tell grandma they’ll call them back. Users can create messaging groups, to talk to more than one person at a time, send their location in the case of an emergency, or share photos. Not much is said about the safety of this app, so monitor closely until you’re sure it’s safe for your tween.

Your Sphere

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Designed for kids ages 17 and younger, this is the counterpart to the website “Your Sphere”. A tiered safety system adds extra safeguards for kids under the age of 12, including a verification and background check from the user’s parents. Once inside the app, kids chat and share content based on kid-friendly “spheres” including sports, animals, and fashion. Users can “trend” within the app, become a featured member, create and share polls, and earn credits to redeem items within the app.

Kik

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Similar to “What’s App”, Kik allows users to connect with friends and chat in groups. With an entire “Safety Center” it’s obvious the developers are focused on making it a safe place for tweens and teens.

Kik is partnered with Social Media Helpline For Schools, Connect Safely, and others to ensure regulations are followed. They also provide an entire guide for law enforcement, parents, and kids. Finally, their community standards are available for everyone to read, allowing you to understand how they keep the app safe.

It’s always good to stay “in-the-know” with the apps your tween may be using, as they can contain possible, cyberbullying, predators and more. Install parental control software that includes a report when new apps are downloaded by anyone in your family.