PLAYMessenger: Child Safe Chat

App review by
Lisa Caplan, Common Sense Media
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Be social like the big kids; parents still in control.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to engage in social media responsibly and safely with friends and other trusted contacts. As they explore the types of communications and exchanges that happen over social media, and as parents set limits on how much kids can use social media and when, kids can develop healthy habits around communicating with others on a device. The more parents discuss issues and give tweens room to prove themselves, the more learning potential PLAYMessenger: Child Safe Chat has.

Ease of Play

Parent setup takes work, but app is easy to use once validated and full of contacts.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

PLAYMessenger: Child Safe Chat is a kid-friendly instant-messaging, texting, and emailing app with lots of parent controls. Parents have to create a master account, provide email verification, and then send out invitations from their own contact lists. Users can share audio and video, send text messages, and send group messages; only parents can turn these features on and off in the Trust Mode section of the app, and parents can see all interactions. Adult email addresses may be shared with third parties. To learn more about the types of information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy.

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What's it about?

To start using PLAYMESSENGER: CHILD SAFE CHAT, parents have to create a master account, provide email verification, and then send out invitations from their own contacts to create a contact list. Then the contacts have to undergo a similar verification process. In Trust Mode, parents can control all the features and contacts; the language filter promises to block any iffy language; and parents can see all messages sent and received. Once you've invited safe chat companions and determined what -- if any -- advanced permissions you want your child to have, the app then works much like any texting app, with an optional push notification alerting kids to new messages and easy back and forth. Beyond texting, kids can chat with individuals or groups from their contacts and send emails.

Is it any good?

Though no system is as effective as parental oversight, this social media platform offers just that and then some. It delivers as much safety as possible to a demographic that is going to use social media and instant messaging for their entire lives. Because of all the verification required, it can be a bit cumbersome to set up, but that's the price of a totally contained social media environment. Kids and tweens will love that they'll have access to all the features the older teens are using, and parents will love all the control. The only technical hiccup is that the app crashes when you're trying to add contacts from the iOS contact book, requiring parents to manually enter email addresses for anyone they want to include. Also, it would be nice to eventually let messages be private so kids get to spread their wings a bit more as they prove they can handle the responsibility.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about safe chat and text behavior. Why do parents need to carefully vet contacts? What sorts of dangers are there in sharing personal information over the Internet?

  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of being able to communicate so much, so quickly, with so many people.

  • Talk about your rules and values around digital citizenship. What are your responsibilities as part of a digital community?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love social networking

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