A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
WHATSAPP MESSENGER uses push notifications to allow users to send each other unlimited text messages without data limits. Messages are encrypted (completely private) and users can literally "send a million messages a day" and not be charged (except for whatever data fees apply according to your carrier's plan). As with most messaging apps, teens can send text, videos, documents, and GIFs to individuals or groups, make calls, and use filters. Within a chat, teens can use Live Location to share where they are and stop sharing whenever they choose. The app shares user data with parent company Facebook unless users opt out when they first download the app.
Is it any good?
This app has a lot of great features, but parents may find the idea of their teens having unlimited messaging -- as well as location sharing and constant status updates -- unappealing, at best. The voice-messaging feature's impressively clear audio is a plus, as are group texting and check marks that confirm messages have been sent and read. As the app adds fun and cosmetic features, it stays competitive with some of the other top apps for teens, and its no-fee system makes it appealing especially for those with family and friends in other countries.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about limits with WhatsApp Messenger and other apps: During what hours are kids allowed to text? How much screen time are they allowed?
Talk about the types of information that are best shared in text messages and the types best discussed in person. Let kids know that tone isn't always clear, and emojis can't fill in every blank.
Discuss location sharing and the risks it has. When might it be useful to share your location, and with whom? When is it a bad idea?
- Devices: iPhone, Mac, Android, Apps for Windows
- Skills: Communication: conveying messages effectively, multiple forms of expression
Tech Skills: social media, using and applying technology
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: December 12, 2013
- Category: Social Networking
- Size: 18.60 MB
- Publisher: WhatsApp Inc.
- Version: 2.11.7
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.3 or later; Android 2.1 and up
For kids who love to express themselves
Our editors recommend
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.