What is WhatsApp? An app review for parents

by | Mar 21, 2016 | Blogs, Internet Safety

What is WhatsApp? An app review for parents

WhatsApp is an application that is very popular around the world however, most parents don’t know about it.

I do need to make a disclaimer. The Smarter Parenting team uses Whatsapp as a way to communicate with parents and agencies around the world largely because it is convenient for most people, especially in remote areas. This is helpful especially for the people we are working with through Operation Underground Railroad. Watch the following video for more information.


WhatsApp describes itself in the following way:

“WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS (Short Message Service). WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and yes, those phones can all message each other! Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.”

So, just how popular is WhatsApp? Here are some statistics:
With numbers like that’s, it’s not surprising that an astounding 30 billion WhatsApp messages are sent every day, including 700 million photos, 200 million voice messages and 100 million video messages.

  • As of 2015, 50 percent more messages are sent using WhatsApp than SMS.
  • Roughly 630 million people use WhatsApp every day.
  • 1 million new users register for a WhatsApp account every single day.
  • The average active user uses WhatsApp for 195 minutes per week.

Like I mentioned before, Smarter Parenting uses Whatsapp to communicate with people around the world because it does not add additional charges to a data plan. For us, it is easy to use for people living in remote areas on the continent of Africa and in Asia.

In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio messages.

What parents should know

  • WhatsApp provides an alternative to Facebook and texting on their phones. Teens are flocking to WhatsApp because it gives them the privacy and freedom to exchange any messages they want with whomever they want.
  • Teens turn to WhatsApp to communicate and to share photos and videos in smaller, more selective groups than on social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook allow.
  • When it comes to selfies, and teens take a lot of selfies. According to one report over 27 percent of all selfies shared on social media come from WhatsApp!
  • The app does not require users to set a password.
  • Although users have to be 16 years old to use the app, there is no enforcement of this rule.
  • Facebook and Youtube often filter inappropriate or adult content. WhatsApp does not.
  • What’s app also uses geo-location or a location feature so users can see where others are located.
  • It does have some privacy settings users can put in place like blocking people, information on a users profile and what can be shared.

I would rate this app a 1 out of 5 in regards to safety for children, largely for the things I’ve discussed earlier.

If you find this app on your child’s phone and have concerns we recommend you talk them using the skill of Effective Communication.

Talking to them early about online safety and establishing expectations is always important and can prevent a lot of problems in the future. Use Preventive Teaching on the Smarter Parenting website to begin the discussion.


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BlogsWhat is WhatsApp? An app review for parents