Many of us are doing what we can to limit our in-person interactions these days—and finding creative ways to stay in touch with family and friends. In an effort to stay connected, we’ve all had a crash-course in a lot of different platforms and apps. But with recent controversy over data sharing between WhatsApp and parent company Facebook, many parents are wondering if there’s a better option for their kids.
WhatsApp might not feel like the best option for families because it isn’t a kids’ product. It is rated “12+” in the App Store and “Teen” in the Play Store, and that has very real implications for how it collects and shares data. And, the end-to-end encryption on the platform—while appreciated by some adults—poses significant safety risks when children are involved. As many of us are re-evaluating the pros and cons of using a Facebook-owned platform, here are a few reasons to consider a messenger that’s purpose-built for kids and their families:
Kids deserve to have their data protected
The truth is that everyone deserves data protection, but it’s especially important for kids to have access to technology without sacrificing their privacy. Lots of adult platforms play fast and loose with data—and often share information with third parties in order to make money. Facebook has a particularly egregious record of privacy violations, so when WhatsApp users recently learned that the platform intends to share their data with the parent company, they were understandably concerned about what that means for them and their families. When kids are involved, it’s a good idea to look for an app that’s designed specifically for them and complies with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. COPPA lays out strict guidelines that are specifically designed to keep kids safe online. When a platform is COPPA compliant, like Kinzoo, it’s a good indication that they have policies in place to protect kids’ data.
When platforms are designed for adults, however, there is lots of wiggle room for them to collect, share and monetize user data—something to think twice about when kids are involved.
End-to-end encryption isn’t ideal for kids’ safety
When we set out to build a kid-safe messenger, we worked with leading experts in child online safety. We learned that there are serious safety concerns for kids on a fully end-to-end encrypted platform. In order to keep kids as safe as possible, we simply can’t offer end-to-end encryption, because it is incompatible with the reporting and monitoring practices that help protect children. Encryption, unfortunately, increases the risk of bad actors using platforms to communicate inappropriately with kids because no one (including law enforcement) can ever access the content shared between users. So, while other messengers like Signal and Telegram may have a better privacy track record than Facebook, they are best suited for grown-up users who understand how to navigate the digital world safely.
We never look at our users’ messages unless something has been reported to us. We empower kids to report anything that feels inappropriate, and we review each one to take appropriate action.
No SIM card, no phone number, no problem!
Some messaging platforms designed for adults require users to have a phone number and SIM card—things many children might not have yet. The question of when to set kids up with their own phone number and data plan is a big one for parents, and we believe that they shouldn’t have to fast track that in order to stay connected. All you need to use Kinzoo is a device and a Wifi connection, which means kids can ease into messaging without needing a phone line of their own.
Approved contacts and closed groups put parents in control
A group chat can be a fun, easy way to share with family and close friends—especially while in-person gatherings are on hold. With Kinzoo, you control who you kids can connect with, and group chats can only be created with approved contacts. Since many adult messengers aren’t closed ecosystems, it’s possible for groups to be created among users who aren’t individually connected—which might not be ideal, especially for younger children. But with a secure invitation system like the one in Kinzoo—and the peace of mind that comes with parent-approved contacts, group chats are a safe space for children to share with those who matter most.
Lots of adults have been leaving WhatsApp in order to find a messaging platform that better protects their privacy. We believe that if something isn’t safe for adults, it’s definitely not safe for children. Kids deserve technology that protects their best interests—and the easiest way to do that is to look for platforms that are specially designed for them. When children have the chance to explore the digital world safely, they can connect with loved ones, explore their creativity and cultivate new passions. Download Kinzoo for free today!
Image Credit: PixieMe / Shutterstock.com