LINE

Common Sense Media says

Social media, games, video, text, audio chat all in one app.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Some users may find that LINE seems more complicated than most messaging apps because of its multi-step registration process and the multitude of options for everything from adding friends (via message, quick response code, or "shaking" devices together, for example) to melding social media timelines with messaging options, games, and more. 

Violence

Violent content is against LINE's terms of use. There's no violent content in the app itself, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videosMessages can be given expiration times, similar to Snapchat.​

Sex

"Sexual expressions" are against LINE's terms of use, but teens can send and receive unmonitored texts, photos, voice messages, and videos. Messages can be given expiration times, similar to Snapchat.

Language

Some stickers include mild profanity or abbreviations for profanity.

Consumerism

Although LINE is free, the app encourages users to purchase coins to buy stickers and screen themes, play games, and make calls to non-LINE users. Official accounts are generally for brand, product, celebrity, or consumer media news and promotions.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some stickers include images of characters drinking alcoholic beverages.

Privacy & safety

Use the privacy settings, which include the option to make your "Public User ID" not public, to add a passcode to the app, and to filter messages from non-friends. During account registration, LINE collects a user's phone number and email address and the contacts in his or her device's address book. Location is tracked, but if location services are turned off the app's other features will continue to function. The app's terms of use indicate minors may use LINE only with parental consent, although there's no effort to check that during the registration process. The terms also give the developer permission to "share the user's personal information with a business partner." 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that LINE is a multifaceted text, video, and voice-messaging app that also includes social media elements, such as games, group chats, and personal timelines. Privacy can be improved by using the privacy settings, which include the option to make your "Public User ID" not public, add a passcode, and filter message from non-friends. The app is free, but in-app purchases are required for some features, such as calling contacts who aren't LINE users and using most stickers, themes, and games. Users can add other users to their contacts through invites, QR code, or shaking their smartphones. LINE includes an option to choose "Hidden Chat," which entirely deletes messages after a brief time, similar to Snapchat. Some LINE accounts called "official" accounts (similar to verified accounts on other networks) are used to promote a brand, product, celebrity, or consumer media to other individual users. LINE includes versions for many mobile-device platforms as well as desktop computers.

What's it about?

Register for LINE with your mobile device's phone number and an email address (or only an email address for computer or non-phone-based devices). Create a profile, and view which friends in your contacts already have LINE so you can call or message them for free. Invite other friends to LINE, browse and add stickers, play games, or view official accounts for news and information. All features can be accessed from the app's main screen and a "more" tab. LINE packs a lot of messaging and social media options into one app.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

LINE has become a popular messaging app, presumably in part because of its many options for messaging, cute stickers, and use across platforms and computers. But that multitude of options may be a drawback, too. This app includes a lot of ways to spend money, little by little, through small in-app purchases for a pack of cute stickers or a game.

The integration between some social media elements (timelines, games) and video, audio, calls, and many other forms of messaging is interesting, although sometimes more options in one app are useful and at other times they can clutter basic functions until it becomes too distracting to enjoy any of the many options. Voice-message sound quality during this review was less clear than in other messaging apps. Sometimes simplicity can help users communicate even better than a multitude of methods, and LINE rides the thin line between enough and too many choices.

Families can talk about...

  • Review the privacy options on LINE with your teens and encourage them to keep their user IDs private and filter messages from people they don't know.

  • Discuss your family's rules about in-app purchases with your teen.

  • Families can talk about messaging apps. Read Common Sense's trend alert about messaging apps and talk with your teen about why it's not a good idea to share iffy secrets online.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Phone
Price:Free (with in-app purchases)
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:July 22, 2014
Category:Social Networking
Size:32.20 MB
Publisher:NAVER JAPAN
Version:4.5.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later, Android 2.1 and up.

This review of LINE was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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