GroupMe is a group and private messaging app available for free from Microsoft. One of the reasons why this app is so popular is because it works across platforms. You don’t need a smartphone to join. All you need is a device to connect using cellular data or Wi-Fi. This app works on iPhones, Androids, computers, and tablets. Users sign up with their Facebook credentials, Microsoft/Skype logins, phone numbers, or email addresses. GroupMe is frequently used in schools and kids primarily use the app for group chats.
Children can easily access or even unintentionally encounter sexual content.
- GroupMe offers the ability for users to search GIFs, images, or videos where inappropriate content is easily accessible. These features cannot be turned off.
Chats can become toxic with different forms of cyberbullying.
- Kids can get excluded by getting kicked out of a group chat or by a separate group chat being created where everyone else but them are invited.
- Large groups can splinter off into smaller groups where kids are attacking, bullying, or sharing mean comments about those not invited.
- No notification is sent when private chats are screenshot.
- There is no option to delete messages sent after 60 minutes.
- When someone is removed from a group chat, a message appears in the group chat to notify everyone.
Built-in web browsers allow users to send links that won’t be opened in Google or Safari.
- Links or sites visited opened using GroupMe will not appear in a child’s browser history.
- Younger kids can potentially view inappropriate content without parents being aware.
GroupMe offers no internal parental controls.
- Parents cannot block a browser.
- Parents cannot enable any guardrails such as blocking keywords to prevent access to potentially dangerous content. Apple’s content restrictions won’t work on GroupMe.
GroupMe can be a fun way for kids to have group chats and connect with friends—regardless of device. Even if a teen has an iPhone but their friend only has a tablet, they can still connect and communicate with one another. We strongly encourage parents to be transparent when monitoring their child’s activity and devices. One of the most helpful tools parents can utilize for GroupMe is the features offered by the parental control app Bark. Parents can get alerts for potential issues such as bullying, sexual content, suicidal ideation, and more. Bark’s Safety Concerns With GroupMe article is a valuable resource to be aware of the risks on GroupMe. Parents can also check out iRespect&Protect’s Parental Controls and Monitoring Tools to make an informed decision about what fits best for their family based on their values.