WeChat / LINE / Glide / Wickr / Viber / KEEK /TANGO

What It Is:
Each one of these apps WeChat / LINE / Glide / Wickr / Viber / KEEK  / TANGO are messaging apps/programs featuring picture, text, video and some calling service capabilities. They each have a slightly different way of messaging in their built in app, but all provide a way to communicate in a community that is hard to monitor for parents.

What It Does:
These apps replace the existing format of regular phone texting and pic/video messaging.

Would My Child Want It?:
Among some circles, regular text messaging isn’t considered as cool as having your own app that your parents can’t see or access. Many kids want to feel the freedom to not be monitored or have their own way of communicating with their friends.

Where Can It Be Used?:
Primarily these are apps to be used on any phone, tablet or internet-enabled device. A few have programs you can get to a computer, but for the most part all of these are phone driven apps.

What Should I Watch Out For?:
These apps aren’t inherently bad or dangerous for kids, but they can be if you don’t have an open or trustworthy relationship with your kids. They can be used to hide conversations, delete history of conversations and make it difficult for parents to be “in the know.” A few of these apps also mimic Snapchat’s feature of images and texts being deleted after they have been sent, so keep watch for that.

What Are The Positives?:
It’s every parents nightmare to get the cell phone bill and see that your kid went over his texting limit and now you owe your cell service provider $56.54.  These apps are free and don’t use typical SMS texting, so charging doesn’t apply. That’s a huge positive, just make sure you communicate with your kids about freedom and responsibility.

What Are The Negatives?:
The biggest negative is a lack of transparency and “secret conversations” that your kids might be having with others. Kids can have so many apps on their phones that they can bury certain apps in folders deep on their home screen until you don’t even know they have it.

What We Think:
Make sure you are an involved parent, and if your kids wants one of these, find out which of their friends have it and why they want to use it. Ask them hard questions, if they are totally upfront give them a shot, if they seem to be hiding their reasons…well, you know what to do.

Overall, these apps aren’t bad to use as long as you as the parent have access and control.  Also would be great if you weekly checked in on their apps and checked to see if their history of conversations have been deleted, this would mean they were up to no good.