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Texting Apps Teens Love

textingappsTexting is a large part of communication for many kids, teens, and adults. Many teens are using one or more apps for texting. Do you know which texting apps teens love? While some of these apps have features that make them worthwhile, others have features that definitely pose safety concerns. Talk to your family about the messaging apps they want to use. And, most importantly, take the time to do a bit of research so you can talk to them about the pros and cons of each.

Here are a few of the popular messaging apps:

kikKik

Kik Messenger is an app-based alternative to standard texting that teens use for social networking. It’s free to use, but has lots of ads.

What Teens Say

It’s fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees (if you just use the basic features). Teens aren’t worried about limits, so Kik is a bit more worry-free and fun for them.

What Parents Should Know

Kik’s ability to link to other Kik-enabled apps within itself is a way to drive purchases from users for developers. The app also encourages new users to invite everyone in their phone’s address book to join Kik, since users can only message those who also have the app.

You’ll want to talk to your teens about sharing with strangers. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. There’s also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages to share with others.

UPDATE: Kik has been the texting app I get the most questions about from parents. It’s extremely popular with teens, and most parents I talk with feel pressured to let their kids get the app. Many parents I speak with don’t know Kik allows communication with strangers. It does. Recently a 35 year old man was arrested when he tried to pick up an underage girl from school. I can’t stress how important it is we talk with our kids about texting. Know what texting apps they are using. Help them choose wisely!

Kik is available for both IOS and Android devices.

wechatWeChat

WeChat is a mobile text and voice messaging service. In addition to making free calls, you can share videos and photos (or “Moments”), create group chats, and find new people nearby. The app is available for Android, iOS and several other devices.

What Teens Say

WeChat boasts more than 200 million users, and takes their services beyond offering straight messaging to games, stickers and music sharing. Often users choose stickers instead of words when they need to express themselves. Many young adults and teens feel WeChat is more personal when setting up events and get-togethers. And, there’s the ability to send selfies without fear of them showing to everyone on your Facebook page. WeChat feels a bit more personal because you are connecting with one person or a smaller group.

What Parents Need to Know

You must be 13 years old to have an account. And those between the ages of 13-18 are considered “minors.” As such, their parents must agree to the terms of service for themselves and on behalf of their teen. This verbiage does means that parents need to know and agree to their teen using the app and gives parents some ability to have unauthorized accounts removed.

Their “Acceptable Use Policy” is impressive and does seem to imply that they want to keep WeChat safe. How well it is monitored, though, isn’t clear and my guess is that the burden is on users to report those who are violating the terms.

WeChat has some great messaging features. You can send text messages, voice messages, and do video calls. It’s a great way for families and friends to stay connected. There are a few options on WeChat that do merit discussion with your teen. Look Around allows users to located other WeChat users within a few kilometers. Discussions of safety are key here. Shake lets users connect with other WeChat users located up to 1000km away. This features will allow your teen to connect with unknown users. Drift Bottle lets users select a message written by another user out of a sea of bottles. They can toss it back or reply to the users. Look Around, Shake and Drift Bottle are all going to allow teens to connect with users they don’t know.

WeChat is available for both IOS and Android devices.

PoofPoof Texting

Poof is a messaging app that brings users “disappearing” messages. Much like SnapChat promises users they can send photos privately, Poof does the same. In fact, they say so in the Google Play store, where the description for Poof reads, “When you send a POOF text message, it’s automatically deleted off your phone. When you read a POOF text, it too is instantly deleted off your phone. POOF text messages are never stored on servers, and leave no text messaging footprint behind!”

What Teens Say

Teens love the ability to have messages disappear. It give them the ease of texting with the feel of having unrecorded conversation face to face.

What Parents Need to Know

The idea that anything shared digitally disappears is something we need to discuss with our kids. Screenshots alone mean anything shared can be saved…period.

Poof Texting is available for both IOS and Android devices.

TextnowTextNow

TextNow is unlike other messaging apps in that it gives you your very own dedicated phone number. You can text and call your friends and family simply by using this app. This app is available for any device you want including the Nook and Kindle.

What Teens Say

Teens who are on wifi-only devices can now text and call friends. Teens who don’t have a cell phone love that they now have their own number to give to friends and family.

What Parents Need to Know

The app is free but it offers in app purchases.

TextNow is available for IOS, Android, Kindle and Nook devices.

confidesmConfide

We have unrecorded conversations all the time in the offline world. Daily we have phone calls, in person meetings, or chats with friends over coffee. These conversations allow for honest and genuine dialogue without the fear of every word being archived and saved on various servers. However, this isn’t possible online where what you say online remains forever. Confide is the online solution to that. You can now say digitally what you’re willing to say in person but have been hesitant to do so. Confide uses end-to-end encryption and disappearing messages so users can now enjoy off-the-record conversations online.

What Teens Say

Teens have grown up sharing thoughts and photos digitally. Teens like apps that promise that they can now share their thoughts with some privacy.

What Parents Need to Know

The idea that anything shared digitally disappears is something we need to discuss with our kids. Screenshots alone mean anything shared can be saved…period.

Confide is available for both IOS and Android devices.

 

This list is not exhaustive by any means. And, I’m not suggesting that families steer clear of texting apps. I believe some of these apps provide a solutions for families who need an unlimited texting option. In those cases, knowledge of the app and open discussions with your teen are important. There are so many choices available that it’s important to know the pros and cons of each.

Join me next week as we’ll discuss video messaging apps.

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