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Signal - Private Messenger
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
SIGNAL - PRIVATE MESSENGER is a free messaging app that lets users make free and secure local and international audio and/or video internet phone calls and enjoy free, secure texting. The app takes only a minute to download and even less time to set up. It draws only upon your existing cell phone contact list but enables you to invite friends via text. On Android devices, only you can send messages to people not using the app, though those messages aren't as secure. Though it uses cell numbers as contacts, connections are actually made over data connections, so devices need internet access. Because of end-to-end encryption and the fact that the developers don't store any personal data, communications are secure.
Is it any good?
This messenger is known as Edward Snowden's favorite private-messaging app, because it's hailed as the most secure messenger available. The app's a snap to download, install, and use, doesn't force you to make any kind of account, and gives you the most secure texting available. Better still, its Skype-like internet calls have good quality sound and visuals. The app is extremely basic, graphically speaking. Developer Open Whisper clearly takes a practical approach to app design. That's not a bad thing; Signal - Private Messenger knows its job and does it well without any pointless bells and whistles. Text securely to your heart's content, or enjoy secure, lag-free calls (at least locally -- with further-flung internet connections, performance can vary) that use your data or Wi-Fi connection, not your voice minutes. For some, a downside is that it only works with other Signal users if you're on iOS. Still, with no annoying ads or come-ons to buy "better" versions of the app, it's your best option for free, secure chat, voice, and video.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about privacy in online communications, including on messaging apps like Signal - Private Messenger. How can you ensure your communications are safe? Even if the app itself is secure, what private information should we only share with trusted people and sites?
Think about the importance of secure messaging. What sorts of information might you want to keep secure?
Discuss online privacy and why we need to care about it. What are some ways to keep our information and devices secure?
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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.