WhatsApp is a messaging service (owned by Facebook) that aims to replace regular text messaging. Unlike most other messaging apps, accounts are created with a user’s phone number and offer regular messaging, group chats, voice messages and image sharing in one-on-one and group conversation settings.
WhatsApp is present on all of the popular phone operating systems and has numerous features that make communicating quick and straightforward. For many, these features help to push it ahead of the messenger pack, but with all of the connection features available to anyone, the platform can attract the best and worst.
- Easy setup with a phone number
- Reporting users is simple
- Privacy settings are easily accessible
- Group messaging allows friends/classmates to communicate easily
- Users can only interact with someone if they have their phone number
- No age verification
- Low barrier to entry attracts predators
- Group chats can connect strangers
- Users are unable to control who adds them to a group chat
- Parents may only monitor texts if they are aware of WhatsApp
- There are multiple applications and malware that threaten security and privacy of WhatsApp users
- Known to be used by predators and for sexual exploitation
Tips for educators
- As with any messaging app, the best way to prevent inappropriate use is to ensure the usage of the app is monitored, and the child understands adults can view the conversation at any time.
- If usage is monitored and the student is not given a chance to communicate privately, WhatsApp is a great alternative to text messaging.
- Group-messaging features are useful tools for group projects
- Review the WhatsApp FAQ
- Other applications provide the features of WhatsApp without sacrificing anonymity by using a phone number.
There are new messaging apps added to app stores every day, so keeping up with all of the new features and uses is nearly impossible. To stay aware of the dangers involved, be sure to find the commonalities between all of these applications and understand the culture in which they exist. To hold students accountable for their actions, ensure that they know every online communication can be seen by any authority figure.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging applications in the world, but you do not need to be a WhatsApp expert to know the possible dangers and the best way to ensure students are safe using the application.
WhatsApp can be a useful tool for teams collaborating in and out of school, but there are other useful tools with a stronger focus on safety that should be considered.What’s Up With WhatsApp? Click To Tweet