Have you heard about the popular messaging application GroupMe?
Teens and Social media share a special connection. According to a survey, more than ninety percent of teens have used any social media platform once in their lifetime and fifty one percent visit any social media site daily. After all it is the digital age, they are bound to get tempted by these sugary treats. Moreover, everyday techies are coming up with new social media apps that are fueling the fire. One such tempting app is GroupMe which is a major centre of attraction between teens.
Let us first get familiar with this application.
What is GroupMe?
GroupMe is a Microsoft owned messaging application that lets the users connect to N number of people across the world. It gives access to GIFs, emoticons, pictures, videos and website links in its app itself.
By signing up on this app by your Facebook credentials, contact number, Email address or Microsoft/Skype logins, you can easily send group messages to others. It is primarily a group messaging platform but you can also send private messages after acquiring contact information of desired people from group chats.
Why is the GroupMe app popular among teens?
In such a short time, GroupMe has become a star amongst teens. It is rated a whooping 4.7 stars on App store and 4.5 Stars on Google Play Store. The reason for the popularity of this app is:-
- It is very convenient for mixed iPhone, Android and Windows users.
- Free to use
- It includes Gifs, Image and Video Libraries which are hard to find anywhere else.
- One can have multiple chat groups in it.
- Teens can even customize memes in this app.
Since we are primarily focusing on teens, you must be wondering what is the age rating for GroupMe app?
Age Rating for GroupMe
GroupMe is rated 4plus on the App store and surprisingly on Google Play Store, it is rated Everyone. According to the App store, it doesn’t contain any objectionable content.
Moreover, its App store description says “GroupMe – the free, simple way to stay connected with those who matter most.” Sounds innocent , isn’t it ?
But there is much more to this app than what meets the eye. In addition to close ones, this app also lets its users connect with any stranger that may be a potential threat to your child’s safety and security. What concerns us the most is that this app is a window to sexual content and unrestricted search bar. Is this app really safe for 4 plus kids?
Why Is GroupMe A Potential Threat For Your Kids ?
For sure, this application is a fun platform where groups can keep in touch, make their clubs, do fun activities or even discuss travel plans. But, this app also possesses some serious threats to the privacy, security and mental health of teens.
- Access to Sexual Content
One of the most crucial concerns with GroupMe is how easily one can access adult content on this platform. Apart from what teens are sharing and receiving in their group chats, they can also find sexual content in the form of Gifs, pictures and videos. Moreover, one can easily find the URLs for pornography in this app itself.
- Digital Footprints
Unlike Whatsapp or Twitter, there is no way in GroupMe in which you can remove or retract your previous messages. Sometimes, teens share some crucial information by mistake which can affect their future seriously. Unfortunately, on GroupMe what goes on the app stays on the app forever.
- Cyber Bullying
Any group of teens offline or online is a potential ground for bullying and here also, the situation is no different. Teens gang up on one member who is most tender and vulnerable and start abusing them making them feel boycotted or targeted. Even screenshots can do the rounds on other popular sites which adds to their anxiety.
- Inappropriate Group Chats
These group chats can have some serious offensive titles or usernames that you might be completely unaware of. While some notorious ones do it knowingly, others might have found these exciting groups made by friends of friends. Also, the discussions on these group chats are not so innocent. Your kid may end up witnessing age inappropriate content like drugs, alcohol, pornography and much more.
- Hidden Internet Search Bar
You can easily find an unrestricted search bar in the GroupMe app if you dig deeper. Moreover, GroupMe provides Bing or MSN search which doesn’t come into Apple’s Content Restriction feature.
Should you let your Teens use GroupMe ?
GroupMe is a nice platform where teens can discuss their school projects or assignments or keep in touch with extended family members. But, there are too many threats involved with it which you cannot and should not ignore. For kids and younger children we do not think it is a good idea to use this app, there is too much adult content involved in it which can affect their mind crucially.
For teens, parents should take some safety precautions if they are letting them use this app.
Parent’s role in making GroupMe a safe platform –
Most of us underestimate the value of a good conversation but trust me, this one is very effective. If your teen is big enough to use this app, they are big enough to understand the threats it possesses. Talk to your kids about the risks of interacting with strangers, teach them to report and combat cyber-bullying. These conversations are not only for this particular app but it will be beneficial for their whole online experience.
- Set Restrictions and Limitations
Set time limits on how much your teen is allowed to use this application. They will resist in the beginning but with time they will accept. Who they are interacting with is also very important. Monitor contact list but in a subtle way, do not let them think that you are spying on them. Setting ground rules in a very effective way. Allow them to interact with only school friends and relatives.
- Use Parental Control Applications
Yes, you can use inbuilt parental control but it is not enough. Third party parental control apps like Bit Guardian Parental Control can effectively monitor your kid’s smartphone activity. It can even set time limits on the GroupMe app very easily making your task super easy.
- Remind Them About Digital Footprints
Apart from teaching the pros and cons of using social media applications, you should also teach your kids the right way to behave on these platforms. They should know the importance of their simple messages as they stay on the internet forever. Talk to them about their digital footprints and why they should keep their messages polite, ethical and concealed.
As far as teens are concerned, group chats keep them connected to their family as well as friends, but the threats involved with them like cyber-bullying and online harassment can not be ignored in any case. It can trigger their anxiety and even make them prone to serious threats. Younger kids should stick to traditional texting if possible for their educational purposes. In the case of teens, parents should analyze the digital resilience of them separately and then decide whether they are mature enough to use this app sanely or not. Whatever you decide, do not forget to install Bit Guardian Parental Control in your teen’s smartphone for ensuring a safe and secure digital experience.