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PlayKids Talk - Kids-Safe Messenger

App review by
Lisa Caplan, Common Sense Media
PlayKids Talk - Kids-Safe Messenger App Poster Image

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Parental peace of mind as kids have fun with messaging.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn lessons about digital citizenship as parents select contacts and monitor messages. Because kids are exploring the world of social media in a safer way, they are free to make some mistakes with known and trusted people first. Especially with parent involvement and communication, PlayKids - Kids-Safe Messenger is a good starting place for kids who are itching to use social media.

Ease of Play

Setting up the parent app is easy, although there are some issues with the camera age-verification process, and setting up the kid's app also is simple. Once account is ready for use, everything is very intuitive and mimics real instant messengers. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PlayKids Talk - Kids-Safe Messenger is an instant messenger that targets kids in elementary school around age 6–12. The app gives parents complete control over their child's contacts, profile, and account setup and screens a parent's age. Once parents approve contacts, kids can send instant messages including photos, voice recordings and graphics to one another. Parents can monitor every conversation directly from their devices. Note two devices -- one for the parent and one for the child -- is ideal if you want to be able to monitor your child's chats in real time, but families can share a device without risk of the child accessing parental settings if they don't have your password.

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What's it about?

PLAYKIDS TALK - KIDS-SAFE MESSENGER allows kids to send text and photo messages to preapproved contacts. Only an adult can create an account through a multistep process that verifies age via several factors, including analysis of a photo of the person setting up the account. Once the app is satisfied that the user is an adult, it’s extremely simple to follow prompts and create a parents’ account and accounts for multiple children. Only the adult's account can add contacts, but once they have, kids get to use their iOS device and the app to send instant messages that include text, images, and audio. Parents can monitor all communication to ensure that all communication is appropriate and safe.

Is it any good?

The parental controls on this introduction to instant messaging are strong, and kids will like decorating photos and sending emojis, but there are a few potential glitches. During testing, the app performed exactly as advertised, with easy setup for both the master and secondary accounts, but the primary concern parents report is that the age-verification process often fails to recognize adults in submitted photos as old enough and locks them out. Help is available on the PlayKids website, but getting it cleared up can cause a frustrating delay. Also, adding contacts from an address book caused the app to crash. Overall, it's a strong contender in terms of social media starter apps, as it uses push notifications, emojis, photos, and other features that will make kids feel like they're using the "real thing," all while allowing them to explore digital communication in an environment that’s safe but accurately represents what they'll encounter as they get older and move to less supervised platforms.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the criteria parents use to make their kid's contact lists. If they choose to monitor the conversations, what would cause concern?

  • Talk about safety and privacy online. What information should you avoid sharing? When you get to choose your own contacts, how will you decide?

  • Talk about appropriate times to send instant messages to friends. Discuss what time is too early or late and which topics are taboo, and generally address respecting people's boundaries.

App details

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For kids who love safe chatting and social networking

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