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Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years. She is currently a lifestyle and education blogger and the editor of Whooo’s Reading and Carpe Daily. She’s been featured on PBS.org, Home.com and FamilyEducation.com. When she's not writing or editing, she's trying new DIY projects around the house or training fitness clients. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.
Feb 23, 2017
Kids today are masters at multi-tasking—or at least they think they are. Especially when it comes to talking, which rarely happens one-on-one anymore. More and more kids are using group chat apps to connect with all of their friends at one time. However, many of these chat apps do more than just allow your teen to talk with their friends.
In many cases, they provide a full social media platform for sharing, video calling and more. This can make your kids vulnerable to sharing private information with people they don’t know or seeing inappropriate content.
Learn more about the most popular chat apps to help you decide if they’re right for your tween or teen.
This chat app is for teens, ages 15 years and older, and as such, may not be appropriate for younger kids. Within the app, users can chat with one another, schedule events, and use emojis.
They can also search for GIFs, which may result in users seeing X-rated imagery and language. While little ones may love this app, creating memes and browsing a wide range of gifs, it’s not appropriate for young children and teens.
This group chat app goes beyond text, gifs, and emojis to include video as well. It seems as though the video starts immediately upon opening the app, allowing anything to be caught live if your kids aren’t careful.
It’s also possible to take screen shots of all chats, including those that are private, making it hard to control who sees and shares what. With a red solo cup for a logo, this chat app is aimed at teens and college students, and would not be appropriate for tweens and young teens.
Surprisingly, WeChat is one of the most widely used social-networking platforms in the world, with 800 million users. The app can be used for video calling and group chats with up to 500 people. Users can share photos in their “photo stream” and play games.
They can also connect and chat with people nearby using “Friend Radar,” “People Nearby” and “Shake,” making it potentially dangerous for tweens and children. It is, however, the only messaging app certified by TRUSTe, meaning provides the highest level of control over their privacy settings.
This messaging app can be used to send texts, make video calls and chat in groups. Users can only video chat with up to 12 people, and the free version does include ads and in-app purchasing options. Purchasing premium takes the ads away, but in-app purchases are still possible.
Users can play with a variety of features, including recording video call, watching YouTube videos within a group chat, and send messages while video chatting. Teens may run into privacy and security issues using this app because anyone can search for, find and get in contact with any and every user.
This messaging app doubles as a social network, where users can chat in groups, share to Tango’s public feed, make video calls, play games, and more. The terms require users to be 13 years or older, and all profiles and public and messaging can happen between people who are not friends or already connected. If your teen does sign up, make sure they put their profile to private right away to avoid connecting with anyone who’s not a friend.
This anime- and gamer-focused platform provides a space for people with these common interests to connect. Users can group chat within the app’s many communities, where they may be subject to bad language, violent references, and adult themes. Users can also browse all profiles and start following them, and there’s no clear indication of whether users can set their account to private or not. As such, it’s not a good app for tweens and young teens.
Not all messaging apps are bad, but many provide users with much more than a new texting interface. In most cases, options include video chat, group calls, social sharing and more. Take a look through any messaging app your kids want to use before letting them sign up to be sure the privacy and safety precautions are being made.
Note that if the app is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant, you can be sure it’s safe. For greater peace of mind, you can also use parental control software to have visibility to the apps your child is using and monitor their screen time.