Instant messaging (IM) apps like WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger and others provide a cheaper alternative to text messaging. Often, they have extra functionality which allows you to make groups, send photos, videos and audio quickly. However, IM apps come with some added risks that you should be aware of:
Preventing unwanted messages
IM messages go over the top of the mobile network via the internet. That means we can't help if you receive messages that you don't want.
However, most well known IM apps provide ways of blocking numbers that you don't want to receive messages from. Most will also give you the ability to report a communication that you think is inappropriate or abusive.
IM apps still use data to send messages, and you may incur extra charges if you are out of your data allowance, or data roaming charges when abroad.
Sharing over IM
Just like social networks, you should be cautious in what you share over IM apps. Even though apps such as Snapchat promise to delete your messages a certain number of seconds after delivery, there are still ways the recipient can capture the content of the message.
It's important you explain to children who are using these types of apps what might be inappropriate to share.
More help and info
Visit these sites for more information on internet and social media safety:
- The Police Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) video guide for parents and carers
- Childnet's Know IT All for Parents (childnet.com/kia)
- The UK Safer Internet Centre (saferinternet.org.uk/Information)
If you're not sure about any techy terms, check out our jargon buster
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