A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
JOTT MESSENGER allows kids to send text and photo messages to Instagram connections and friends at school. To create an account, kids have to enter a valid email address or cell phone number and then enter a PIN sent via email or text. Once an account is created, the app asks permission to look at your contacts: If you and a friend both use Jott Messenger, you'll be able to start sending messages right away. You also can allow the app to use your phone's GPS to help you find your schools. You can add any school without proof that you attend, but to see more than the basic profiles of other students, you have to ask a peer to verify you really go to that school. There also are lots of rules regarding behavior and easy-to-block-bully features.
Is it any good?
Jott Messenger works well and boasts features that are fun for teens, potentially distracting, and similar to many other messaging apps. What sets it apart is its ability to create a "mesh" network via Bluetooth, so kids without data plans or Wi-Fi can still chat: Younger users without data plans and kids who want to manage their cell plan data will love this feature, though it may encourage even more texting in classrooms. It's easy to find friends and networks, and starting and replying to private and group messages is simple. Photos do self-destruct, the app itself is stable, and the design makes it easy for anyone to navigate. When someone takes a screenshot of a self-destructing message, the sender gets a notification: Though the app can't prevent anyone from capturing and saving a message, at least the sender knows someone saved it. Unlike Yik Yak and After School - Funny Anonymous School News for Confessions and Compliments, which also link other users within a geographic area or school community, Jott Messenger is not anonymous and says upfront that it's easy to block and flag bullies. It's also more limited than Snapchat, which hosts original content and ads, so kids will only see what their friends send them. However, user content is not monitored, so it's entirely up to users to report violations of the terms of service. As with all messaging apps, users can basically send or receive anything, especially when pictures are involved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safe social-networking practices. Which photos are appropriate to share even if those photos vanish? Kids should know that other users can capture those pictures on their phones permanently.
Discuss ways in which social networks that emphasize safety and school communities can be used for good. How can you use this app to organize events or help others?
Ask your kids: What is the impact on individual friendships and group discussions when they take place more via social media than face to face?
Make sure your kid understands how to flag and report bullying on the app, and maintain open communication about all your kid's online interactions.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.