Roo Kids

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Roo Kids App Poster Image
Parent-controlled chat; settings have limitations.

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Kids can learn to use social media responsibly with guidance from parents and in a safer, more controlled environment with Roo Kids. The app itself is not designed specifically for learning, though, so parents will need to play an active role in discussing with kids how to choose friends, how to interact in texts, and how to regulate their chat time and topics. Since parents can set some controls on kids' chat, Roo Kids can be a tool for parents and kids to use together and a solid starting place for kids to test out the sometimes tricky world of texting.

Ease of play

For parents, setup is easy. For kids, chatting, including sending pictures and drawings, is intuitive.

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language

Parents can create a list of banned words, but punctuation isn't recognized as part of the word. For example, parents could ban "sucks" (or any word), but "sucks!" would not be banned because of the punctuation at the end.

Consumerism

No ads. Kids can buy additional stickers and backgrounds in-app.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roo Kids is a messaging app for kids that gives parents some options to make the experience safer for kids. Parents receive notifications when kids send or receive friend requests, so they can manage the connections kids make. Other parental controls, such as the ability to create a banned words list, are available but aren't airtight: Banned words with punctuation can still get through, and kid can still write messages that will be sent when the curfew window is over. Kids can send photos and drawings they create in-app and can buy additional sticker packages or other options for their profile backdrops.

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What's it about?

To register with ROO KIDS, kids or parents enter a username, password, and parent email. They then can invite other users from their contact list or enter a known username to connect with friends. After that, kids can message friends, sending text, drawings, stickers, or pictures. Parents receive notification of friend requests -- sent or received -- and can approve or remove friends. Kids receive push notifications when they have a new message, unless notifications are disabled in settings.

Is it any good?

Although Roo Kids has potential as a safe chatting app for kids, the parental controls don't work reliably enough for parents to have full confidence. Parents can set curfew hours restricting when kids can use live chat, but kids can still write messages and use the drawing feature during curfew hours. The banned words features also is faulty, allowing those words if they're followed by punctuation. The alerts when kids send or receive friend requests work well and are probably the most valuable for parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about choosing whom to "friend" and what is appropriate to chat about online. Watch our video Perspectives on Chatting together and discuss.

  • Think about how much you'll monitor kids' texting. Read our Q&A: Should parents read their kids' text messages for different perspectives. Let kids know how you'll be monitoring their activity.

  • Discuss the permanence of online communication: For example, let kids know that, even if they delete a message they've already sent, it will stay on the receiver's device.

App details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love safe chatting and social networking

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