ICQ New: Messenger & Chat

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
ICQ New: Messenger & Chat App Poster Image
Video and text chat with fun filters, some iffy images.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not recommended for learning.

Ease of Play

Video chat is easy to use once contacts are loaded. Switching between masks and filters is easy. Other features, like adding stickers, inserting photos, and creating a poll will take some practice.

Violence
Sex

Within the "Discover" section, users can subscribe to channels, and the "Fantasy & Art" section includes provocative photos and animated images, generally of women.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In the Discover section, users can post photos to channels and this section may include photos and videos of people smoking and drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ICQ New: Messenger & Chat is a social networking app that allows for free phone calls and video chatting over Wi-Fi. 90+ fun face masks are available to use when video chatting. It's possible to chat in large groups with up to 30 people at once. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

ICQ NEW: MESSENGER & CHAT is an app that offers a free way for users to text and video chat. A phone number is required to log into the app, but devices -- even iPads without cellular capabilities -- are able to connect over WIFI. Users can also create a nickname to use when chatting instead of using their real name. While chatting, ICQ includes access to over 90 different filters or face masks, like transforming into a kitty astronaut and many others. There is even a little COVID-19 humor, as filters include wearing face masks and being able to open your mouth and watch as green "germs" fill the screen. It's possible for up to 30 members to chat simultaneously on the app. Features in chats include being able to send texts with a voice-to-text feature and an option to create a poll to survey other participants. And with permission for the device to access the camera, it's possible to send photos, videos, stickers and emojis. 

In terms of privacy features, parents can create a passcode to lock the settings. Parents can prevent kids from being added to groups and can limit chats to known contacts and people in the phone book or contact list. For those not wanting to share their phone number, it's still possible to connect with others using a link. There is a "Discover" section of the app, allowing participants to "subscribe to channels." Some of these channels include categories like Fantasy & Art, New York Fashion, and Gif Channel.  The channels allow subscribers to connect with others including those who are not contacts, via texting and sharing, animated pictures, personal photos, and videos. 

Is it any good?

Though including a parental passcode doesn't protect kids from all social media risks or iffy content, this app's inclusion of them is helpful. There are certainly many ways to connect with others, and using a free video and text messenger platform helps to save money by not tapping into data limits on cellular devices, especially when connecting with friends, family members and co-workers all over the world. It also allows users of any mobile platform, whether it be iOS or Android, to easily connect together. ICQ is an OK way for kids to connect with others too, since there are so many fun masks to choose from to express their feelings, humor, and personality when having a conversation. Parents should still monitor and be aware that the Discover section has some mature content.

The iPad version was slightly more glitchy then the cell phone version, taking a longer time (>10 seconds) to load a new mask at times. ICQ certainly provides for some interesting laughs, as some of the masks are quite goofy and quirky. Given that there is an option to join and create channels that could put kids in contact to connect and share information with strangers, parents will absolutely want to enable the built-in privacy settings to create a passcode and restrict others when necessary to promote positive online connections.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how ICQ: New: Messenger & Chat is a great way to connect with friends and family members, but will need to determine what the family rules around chatting and connecting are. Do the kids need adult permission to use the app first before making calls? 

  • Video chatting allows potential strangers and friends to see what you and others are doing anywhere, in real time. It's a good idea to let other family members know you are going on a chat to ensure additional privacy. Where is an appropriate place to video chat with others?

  • Bullying can happen in chat rooms. So, what are the expectations and the etiquette for communicating with others? What should you do if you witness another person doing inappropriate things in a chat?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: August 6, 2018
  • Category: Social Networking
  • Topics: High School
  • Size: 122.10 MB
  • Publisher: Mail.ru
  • Version: 9.0.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 11.0 or later
  • Last updated: April 29, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love social networking

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