WhatsApp is a free messaging is available for download on most smartphones, Macs and PCs. The app works like most messaging apps and allows users to send text, audio and picture messages to other users. Former Yahoo employees founded WhatsApp in 2009. However, Facebook acquired rights to it in 2014. Since then, the app has grown to host over one billion users worldwide – adults and teens alike. Here’s what parents need to know so that you and your kids can navigate WhatsApp safely.
WhatsApp Uses the Internet, Not a Phone Service:
Unlike traditional text messaging, WhatsApp depends solely on Internet connection to send and receive messages. This feature is a big draw for people with family members living and studying abroad. It allows them to communicate with friends and family in other countries without incurring large international phone bills. Parents do need to be aware, however, that WhatsApp can be downloaded to computers and iPads. The app gives them messaging capabilities without phone payments. Parents need to understand their child’s communication capabilities in order to keep them safe and informed.
WhatsApp Recently Changed Its Age Restrictions:
In May 2018, WhatsApp changed its age restrictions from thirteen years of age to sixteen. WhatsApp uses personal information such as phone number, name, contacts, billing and mobile device information. This age restriction helps ensure that the app is being used by responsible users. Responsible users are educated and aware of social media and tech safety. They understand the risks of sharing personal information, photos or locations.
WhatsApp Recently Added Location Tracking Services:
Like iMessage, WhatsApp now allows its users to track one another’s location globally. This, again, has both positive and negative consequences. On one hand, this allows parents and friends to make sure loved ones get to where they are supposed to be safely whether at home or abroad. On the other, in the wrong hands, this information can quickly create an incredibly unsafe situation. Users must be aware at all times of who they are talking to and how much personal information they’re giving, including one’s location.
Responsible technology use is ever-evolving and both parents and their kids need to be aware of these important features before downloading WhatsApp. Like all other apps, always be aware of the privacy settings and who you are communicating. Additionally, parents should always encourage safe usage and be aware of how their children are using the app.