A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
ZELLO WALKIE TALKIE works much like other voice messaging apps, but differs by using livestreaming audio, as opposed to recorded audio. Using an internet connection, it allows you to send alerts, audio messages, and images; create public and private channels; keep a history of your conversations; and use both PTT (push to talk) hardware accessories and Bluetooth headsets. Because restriction settings are locked by a passcode, parents do have control over a kid's access to certain content.
Is it any good?
This walkie-talkie app has a number of good things going for it: It's easy to set up, its sound quality is good, and it has password-protected parental controls. Setting up new channels is a snap, and a channel search function lets you find channels for anything from hurricane search-and-rescue to Hello Kitty.
Though there are plenty of iffy channels to find, it's no sweat for parents to set up a PIN to prevent kids from accessing them. Good as the app is, its limits become immediately apparent at times when it could be of most use. You'd think Zello Walkie Talkie would be your go-to during natural disasters or other crises when internet service becomes unavailable; unfortunately, without an internet connection, the app doesn't work. However, for people with just enough connectivity, it has proved extremely useful to go on to search-and-rescue channels to request help. Also, it's interesting to be a part of an audio chat room instead of a text-based one, as hearing someone's voice does add to the experience. For teens, though, there are still some risks, as it's easy for adults to join kid-oriented channels and for teens to share too much information. If parents want to let kids download this app, they will probably want to use the parent controls and talk to kids about what information they shouldn't share.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the purpose of walkie-talkie technology, like Zello Walkie Talkie. What makes using one different from using a cell phone?
Discuss the idea of recording conversations. When might it be useful? When might it be an invasion of privacy?
Think about how to communicate in a crisis. If you lost your internet connection during an emergency, how would your family communicate?
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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.