Oovoo is quite standard as far as communication apps go; users can text and send multimedia, or video chat with up to 8 friends. To keep up with recent trends, Oovoo released a new “Chains” feature that is very similar to a Snapchat Story, but with a slightly more interactive twist.
Users can add their video, image, or text on to a “Chain.” These chains are either just seen by friends if they are private, or by anyone in the world who wants to view that public community chain.
During a time in which we see our privacy evaporating at an almost daily rate, $2.99 can feel like a worthwhile cost for security. Threema is an anonymous, encrypted messaging service where users can make secure and private voice calls, send instant messages and media that automatically delete upon delivery.
This is all done using only a Threema ID, so it remains anonymous. Contact lists and group memberships are not stored on any server, as they are managed on the device alone. Parents might want to steer their teens away from this app due to the unsafe nature of anonymous messaging and disappearing messages.
Airtime is the ambitious intersection of group chats and video chats. It is a hybrid of other popular apps – essentially GroupMe meets Skype. Users can share media, links, music, and more in real time on a group chat with up to ten people, so they can watch friends reactions.
Parents should treat this the same as any other group video chat and only allow their teens to use this app with caution. However, parents will be happy to know that kids can only talk to people on their friend list and not total strangers.
is a hybrid between a social media platform and an online dating site the free dating website allows users to freely interact with other users through chat, streams and discussion threads via browser and mobile. Parents need to know that MeetMe – Chat and Meet New People is popular online flirting, entertainment, and social networking app and website, formerly called MyYearbook, and has some privacy and safety concerns. Users primarily log on to interact with new people, use “lunch money” or credits to do things like put their profile at the top of the homepage as a spotlight for others to see; to get “priority in match” to increase the number of “secret admirers” you get; and play online games.
Much of the communication has flirty overtones. Users can video chat, IM, or e-mail each other. The app has a strong focus on meeting potential dates, who are also complete strangers — coupled with the fact profile pictures contain men and women in their underwear and users downing alcohol. Users will be exposed to inappropriate content, profanity, drugs, alcohol, predators, and inappropriate pictures and videos. It’s not a kid-friendly concept, and parents should be wary of MeetMe.
Message+, by Verizon Wireless, is an app similar to iMessage in the Apple universe, integrating messaging across all devices. Originally for Verizon users, the platform is now available for non-Verizon users as well.
It is designed to create seamless integration for multimedia messages, group chats of up to 250 people, and a variety of other features, such as location sharing, for every connected device. While this app itself isn’t dangerous, the features it offers should only be used by mature teens.
Viber is a free platform for voice, video, and text messaging. Users can create group chats and private chats to send texts and media or make free voice calls to friends using Viber across the globe.
Viber connects users from most popular platforms such as iOS, Android, and Windows, so everyone is on the same platform. A phone number or a Facebook profile is used for identification.
WeChat is a standard messaging app where users chat, sending stickers and other media, in groups or one-to-one. One feature that parents should be aware of is the map and location sharing.
Not only can users see nearby friends and contacts, but there is also a “shake to meet” feature that brings up other users in the area.
With all the features of any messaging service, Look differentiates with the capability to live stream within your chats and to engage in large groups and communities by communicating on Channels.
There are a wide variety of Channels for many different topics, but kids should understand the importance of responsibility in a public forum. With Look, strangers can message kids easily, and because there are no content filters, kids can come across inappropriate content. Users have reported cyberbullying activity and have found it difficult to delete their accounts. Parents should also be aware that because of the live streaming capabilities and access to large groups, this is not recommended for kids to use.
Telegram, self-described as the fastest messaging service in the world, is a communication app rated for users 17 and older. All data is stored on the Telegram cloud, so group chats of up to 30,000 people are possible. There is also a “Secret Chat” feature, in which the message self-destructs on from both devices, leaving no trace. Parents may want their kids to avoid this app!
(WiBee Talk) is marketed as a messaging app, but besides basic functions such as texts and voice messages, free online calls via the app, BeeTalk’s secret weapon is Whisper, which performs exactly what Snapchat does – making messages disappear after being read. But unlike Snapchat, these Whisper missives are not limited to text, as users can also choose to send self-destructing stickers, pictures, doodles, and voice messages.
BeeTalk is an app for meeting people nearby and befriending them. It gives everyone your location, profile anything you post with no filters or censorship. All apps whose primary use is meeting strangers nearby have high risks associated with them.
Kik is a mobile app that people can use to text with friends at high speed and with more of a “face-to-face feel” than regular texting (users’ profile pictures appear in a little bubble next to their text, and they can quickly text photos, sketches, or even pre-designed greeting cards to individuals or groups). The app is rated ages 17+, but there is no age verification so anyone can download it. Like some other instant messenger apps, Kik allows your teen to connect with others using just a username (rather than texting from her phone number). But it begs the question: Should teens be texting with people beyond their phone contacts? Reviews in the App Store and Google Play store reveal that many people use Kik to meet strangers for sexting. The app also been connected with cyberbullying. Rebecca Sedwick, the Florida bullying victim who killed herself, reportedly used Kik and Voxer in addition to ask.fm — receiving messages like “Go kill yourself” and “Why aren’t you dead?”
Jott messenger is a social network that allows users to send individual and group messages; it lets school friends connect without Wi-Fi or data plan. messages (vanishing text and pictures, akin to Snapchat) to close friends and anyone else who attends their school. To join a school network, another kid must verify that the new user actually attends the school.
This is not an anonymous app There is an age gate, but actual age isn’t verified; the terms of service ban bullying, violence, and nudity but user content isn’t monitored. Like all messaging apps, users can basically send or receive anything, especially when pictures are involved.