Is your child among the millions using WhatsApp? Is it safe for them to do that? Today, I have a guide for you all about what you need to know about the service, its security, and children using the app so you are informed about whether its right for your kids.
Hello, I am Frankie – the messaging app expert, hacking enthusiast, and mind behind this blog.
As parents, there is nothing more precious and special than our children. In this digital age, their safety on the internet and with messaging apps cannot be understated or underappreciated. They spend hours glued to their devices, and much of that time is using messaging apps like WhatsApp to speak with their friends.
This guide is going to give you valuable information about something I am eager to help parents decide: is WhatsApp safe for kids to use?
In a very short and concise answer to this, I would say that as an application, WhatsApp is very ‘technically’ safe. At the same time, there are some hidden dangers that parents should be aware of before loosening the reins.
I intend to show you:
- Features that make WhatsApp enticing to teens
- What risks exist when children use the service
- Parental control tips to keep your children safe to send hysterical memes to one another.
What is WhatsApp?
With more than two billion active users, there is no messaging app that is as popular as WhatsApp. You can send free text messages, images, videos, voice notes, and even make calls and video calls over cell data or Wi-Fi. If you want to know more about WhatsApp tips and tricks check this guide.
Why Do Kids Like WhatsApp?
There are multiple reasons that young people enjoy this messaging app, but I will only list the primary ones below.
1. Safety and Secrecy
This app gives all of its users a sense of secrecy and safety to the messages they are sending.
I should explain.
Teens are meeting people on (vastly more dangerous and risky) apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, and after a little bit of conversing, move a lengthier conversation over to WhatsApp because they believe it to be more secure and safer.
This makes sense, as it seems that children getting in trouble with the law or completing dangerous challenges find the origins linked to TikTok and Snapchat – but never WhatsApp.
So, to a teen, this site is less open to parental scrutiny.
2. Messages Can Be Hidden
Another thing is the ability to hide private messages and intimate messages.
The ‘archive’ feature makes secret chats disappear from the list.
With the ‘archive’ feature, you can make some chats in your thread list invisible. If you are not familiar with this process or the app, you might want to take a look at this tutorial: The Comprehensive Guide on WhatsApp Archived Chats.
3. Make Groups with Over 250 People
A unique feature to WhatsApp is the ability to make groups with up to 256 people.
Consider being a teen for a moment.
These groups can get used to connect with classmates for studying and coordinated events, or on the other hand, to bully someone.
Most parents aren’t going to even attempt to keep up with an ongoing group chat, but instead, focus on the individual chats on the list.
4. It’s a Fun App
Kids love sending and receiving memes and GIFs, and WhatsApp makes this seamless. You also have cool photo and video filters, and other features kids go nuts over.
You can play pranks with fake conversations or share videos from other social networks easily.
Beyond WhatsApp, the services most used by teens these days are Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. I recommend you read my tutorials about these specific services.
Are There Risks Associated with WhatsApp Use?
In the last section I talked about all of the attractive features of WhatsApp that make it alluring to teens.
Did you know that there are also some unforeseen dangers in using the service as well?
You cannot discredit that the world is not full of good people, and those with bad intentions can come off as trusted friends. They ‘groom’ children to disobey and disregard their parents under the guise that they are not loved. Sexting, child abduction, and worse can result when children are vulnerable to these predators.
Yet another issue a teen might encounter is cyberbullying on the site. Parents are often oblivious to this situation and learn about it too late. Group chats can be bad for this.
3. Sexting/Revenge Porn
Another unfortunate negative effect for teens using WhatsApp is sexting. This is an exchange of explicit (and not always consensual) texts, images, and videos between people.
Unfortunately, WhatsApp cannot regulate this content. As a parent, you need to be mindful that this situation exists and could affect your children.
Sexting is often also associated with another negative situation: revenge porn. That is when you send videos and photographs acquired during sexting to acquaintances and friends for blatant revenge. By the time you know it is happening, the damage has already been done.
4. Breach of Privacy
While the site uses end-to-end encryption for messages, this does not protect your child from someone grabbing screenshots of conversations. Therefore, private conversations can be shared openly, and photos can be downloaded.
5. Scams and Fake News
Social media is littered with scams and bad information. Your children are not often old enough to navigate what is true/real and what is not.
The bottom line is this: You need to have open dialogue with your kids about these risks and what they are seeing.
You have to be willing to tell them about your concerns with WhatsApp and the type of dangers and predators that exist. You need to make them understand the importance of protecting their private information, location, and other sensitive details. You can make sure they know that you trust them to know who is their friend and who is not.
Another awkward conversation that you absolutely need to have is telling them they should not send anyone pictures of themselves, especially risqué photographs or images without clothes. Explain that receiving these pictures is something you should know about as well to protect them.
You should walk them through the process of changing their security settings so only their contacts can see what is happening on their profile and how to disengage geolocation tracking when taking pictures.
But all of this might not be enough – you might want to monitor their WhatsApp activity on your own.
Trusting your kids is awesome, but there are very convincing individuals out there that still might be able to get them to share information like their phone numbers or address. These people begin with befriending your child on another social outlet and then encourage the move to the less regulated and less concerning WhatsApp.
You can choose to tell your kids that you are monitoring them or not, that is up to you. As a parent, I don’t tell my kids about the monitoring of their actions, so they feel as though they have privacy and that they don’t feel like they cannot trust me.
Monitoring WhatsApp activity is not difficult.
Let me show you how.
3 Methods to Get WhatsApp Parental Control
This is a monitoring system that works on devices of all kinds. This program allows you to monitor all actions on a phone, not just WhatsApp conversations.
With this program, you can see all the chats, photos, videos, and other media shared (even if it has been deleted.) You can also use this system to hear WhatsApp calls and view all stored contacts on the application.
For this to work on any phone, there are needed technical steps. I would suggest installing this program before you ever give them the phone.
I would consider this to be the best possible option for monitoring WhatsApp activity.
The dashboard you gain access to keeps data and information stored conveniently in an organized fashion, allowing you to determine who is calling often, sending photos, and what contact is messaging most.
This system can be completely hidden from sight, so your kid will not know it is there and there or how they can disable it. Unlike FlexiSpy, mSpy does not require jailbreaking iPhones or rooting an Android operating system to install.
If you want to try a demo version for free and see how clear an easy it is to use the dashboard and the software, you can do so by clicking here.
I have put together a comprehensive guide on installing mSpy – The Best Cell Phone Tracker App. Within the guide I also have a discount voucher for readers of my blog to get a good deal.
3. Mac Spoofing
Many cannot afford the prices charged by FlexiSpy and mSpy, so you are not out of options. You can also consider mac spoofing – which undeniably requires some fiddling with your phone and your child’s phone to accomplish.
With the changing of a few settings, your phone can believe it is logging in to your kid’s phone instead. If you follow instructions directly, your kids will never even know it is happening.
The process differs from mSpy and FlexiSpy because you see WhatsApp just as your child does. There is no dashboard to view, you cannot see deleted images and video, and you are limited to what is available.
mSpy is the best option out there. It is affordable, has 24/7 support, and has loads of features.
Now that we have reached the end of the guide, I want to recap some points and information we learned along the way.
I can assure you that ‘technically’, WhatsApp is very secure. Messages are encrypted, there are age restrictions, and privacy settings are advanced.
There are risks that are worth considering, however. Some of these include:
- Sharing secretive and inappropriate content
- Dangerous strangers (pedophiles or violent individuals)
- Mobile phone addiction
It is quite fortunate that software exists to help in this regard. You can monitor WhatsApp activity along with many other threats.
Presently, the best spy app in the world is mSpy. You can use it on either Android devices or iPhones, so it is universal. Before you give off the phone to your child, though, I would recommend talking with them about methods to keep them safe. Before they ever start downloading apps, you could already have mSpy or other services like FlexiSpy installed.
As I mentioned, you can tell them you are monitoring or not. Some parents prefer to be honest about the software and not keep secrets, while others like me prefer to keep them in the dark. Every parent hopes their children will talk with them honestly about confusing conversations, inappropriate situations, and more they should know about.
PS – WhatsApp is only one of the many social apps used by teens. Check out my guide on how you can monitor Snapchat activity.