What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Viber can be used to send free text messages, photos, video messages, and phone calls to other Viber users. It can be used anywhere, even internationally, with Wi-Fi or 3G access. Use Viber on Android, iOS, or Windows phones and some desktop computers. Viber accounts can be created through Facebook or a cell phone number. When a person creates an account, the app identifies and lists Viber users already in the contacts. Group messages can include up to 100 participants. Make calls to non-Viber users and landline phones by purchasing "credits." There are thousands of stickers, some free, to include with messages (some in-app purchase stickers are not kid-appropriate). Users also can draw messages or doodle on photo messages.
What's it about?
To create a VIBER account, enter your cell phone number and then provide your Facebook details or name and image. Tap a contact, type a message in the chat field, and tap the bear icon to add a sticker. Tap the phone icon to make a voice call; tap the microphone and hold to record a voice message. Tap the "x" to view image-based message options (photo, gallery, video, doodle, location). Two check marks mean the message was delivered. Access account settings by tapping on the gear icon.
Is it any good?
Viber is an impressive, free messaging app that includes more privacy and customization options than some similar apps. It works well (sound quality reportedly varies, depending upon connection quality; it sounded just fine during this review), and it's visually appealing. You can view your contacts who use Viber under one column and those who don't under a "Viber Out" column, which makes it easy to distinguish which are free and which will need in-app purchase credits to call.
Although the ability to call and message any other Viber user (even internationally) for free is the big draw, the options to draw or doodle on messages, change message backgrounds, and choose from thousands of stickers are fun creative perks that may nudge this app up the favorites list. Some of the stickers in the in-app purchase sticker packs are not for kids, but they can easily be avoided by sticking with the free ones. Viber is a standout in the growing crowd of messaging apps.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about messaging apps. Read Common Sense's Trend Alert about messaging apps and talk to your teen about why it's not a good idea to share iffy secrets online.
Remind your teen that Viber's free status depends on messaging and calling others who also have the app; otherwise, they (or you) have to purchase credits. To find out more about different calling rates, go to Viber Out.
Even though the alcohol-related stickers on Viber can be (mostly) avoided by not going to the in-app purchase sticker packs, their existence on a messaging app displays the prevalence of alcohol use in all forms of media. To learn more about portrayals of alcohol and how they may affect your teen, watch Common Sense's Dealing with Drinking in the Media video.
|Devices:||iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Fire phone, Kindle Fire, Apps for Windows, Windows Phone|
|Price:||Free (with in-app purchases)|
|Pricing structure:||Free (Credits for calling non-Viber mobile numbers and landline numbers can be purchased in packs ($.99 to $9.99); some stickers require $1.99 in-app purchase.)|
|Release date:||May 8, 2014|
|Minimum software requirements:||iOS 6.0 or later, Android 2.2 and up.|