Besides WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram, your kids can still start chatting with friends through GroupMe – one of the most popular apps and it’s often used for school projects and sports activities.
Like many other chat apps, this app completely has high chances of getting your child to access inappropriate content such as violent content, pornography which negatively affect your child’s healthy cognitive and physical development. The article below will help you understand what is GroupMe, answer the question Is GroupMe safe and explain some of the disadvantages of GroupMe.
What is GroupMe?
GroupMe is a messaging application that allows users to send messages directly to friends and send messages to groups from mobile devices with no message limits or fees. GroupMe is owned by Microsoft and was launched in May 2010.
Your kids can also use the app as a hub to interact with their friends, from scheduling events to sending money to each other. GroupMe works across multiple platforms.
How do you use GroupMe?
Your child signs up with Facebook credentials, Microsoft/Skype credentials, phone number or email address and can then send private or group messages to other users.
GroupMe is primarily a group chat app, but it also provides an option for direct interpersonal messaging. Therefore, team members can then split into smaller groups when they have each other’s contact information.
One reason people love using GroupMe is that it’s easy to use for both iPhone and Android users. Also, there are some cool features that they can’t find anywhere else, including a GIF gallery, images and videos. It has special emojis to use while chatting, and your kids can even create memes in the app.
Is GroupMe safe?
There are some considerations regarding GroupMe security, which are:
Message cannot be retrieved
Unlike text messages or tweets on Facebook or Twitter, GroupMe does not let your child delete past messages they have sent. This means that anything sent during a time when your child is angry, out of control, or confused, stays on the Internet forever.
This is also known as Digital Footprint, These are the traces of things your child leaves behind when they go online. Everything you post is public whether you delete the post or not, once you have commented, posted anything, it will be forever on the Internet and be traceable.
Research has shown that teenagers have a high risk of sexting – taking and sending nude/semi-nude photos to someone else, be it a boyfriend/girlfriend or a group of friends. And if your child accidentally sends these sensitive images to friends, there is no way to recover them, which can lead to serious consequences such as “revenge porn”, blackmail or those attackers will destroy your child’s reputation.
Cyberbullying in GroupMe
Cyberbullying is an age-old problem of any social network and GroupMe is no exception. Because GroupMe promotes group chat, other children can form “groups” and choose a member as an object (not excluding the possibility that this member is your child) to disdain, tease, make your children feel be boycotted or attacked.
Screenshots can be taken and posted on other social sites, adding to a sense of isolation and aggression. If your child sends sensitive photos in an impulsive moment, with GroupMe’s feature that does not allow deleting messages, your child is very likely to be smeared, teased about his/her body through other social networks.
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Besides, adding and removing members of a group chat has also become a way to bully and isolate. Every time a group member is added or removed, a notification is displayed as part of the group chat announcing their departure, leaving behind the results of exclusion and a sense of hurt.
Online bullying is relatively common – a March 2019 survey from the Online Bullying Research Center found that 36.5% of respondents had experienced cyberbullying at any given time in life. It causes them to experience anxiety, anxiety disorders, school violence, depression and other negative consequences.
Exposure to inappropriate content: Pornographic/Explicit content
GroupMe is famous for its treasure trove of emojis and an open search for GIFs. Unfortunately, some of these emojis feature adult themes, such as stimulants like alcohol and sexy characters. A GIF search also shows results for people in revealing clothes, drug use, and violent images/videos.
This is the platform on which it is very easy for children to encounter pornography. Sexual content isn’t just from what others share – children can easily find pornography using the GIF, image and video search features. Also, they can view the source URL for these without even leaving the application.
Group chat becomes a controversial issue
This is one of the most painful issues that parents often complain about. As mentioned, GroupMe promotes group chats so that your child can get an invitation to a chat by their friends but don’t really know what the group chat is about.
What even worse is that in some groups your child may not even know anyone in that group, with such a high density of strangers, your child has a very high risk of witnessing something you do not want your child exposed to, such as drugs or inappropriate pornography. Pornographic content can be found via Instagram through strangers.
How can I protect my child from GroupMe?
Any social network has its dark side, so you need to specify the dangers of using social media in general and GroupMe in particular or teach them the social media etiquette before posting for children so that they are self-conscious and consider, adjust behavior accordingly.
Many parents become too anxious, leading to excessive control over their children, such as reading every message, watching all social activities. Just think this: If your kid knows this, how bad would your relationship with your baby be?
To ensure your child’s online environment is safe and healthier, you should consider using an additional online content filtering tool – considered by many parents as one of the best free parental control software to hide 15 types of harmful content on the Internet, including:
- Horrifying content like gore, accidents, ghosts, violence, murder, terrorism, etc
- Content about stimulants, addictive substances such as alcohol, beer, marijuana, drugs, etc
- Content with aggressive elements, hurting others like Hate speech
This free porn blocker extension can help to minimize your child’s access to harmful content, ensuring a healthy online environment for your child but at the same time, not invading their privacy rights.
Wise modern parents are always proactive in bringing the best for their children. To better protect your child from all porn sites, for all internet-connected devices your child use, you should pre-order Wifi Device, becoming the first parents to own the solution which 24/7 protects your kids from harmful websites. Best prices are always available for early birds!
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