What is WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is an encrypted messaging platform that has now become ubiquitous and is very extremely popular. Facebook purchased WhatApp for an astronomical amount of $19 billion back in 2014 as Mark Zuckerberg saw the vision for WhatsApp being the “dial tone of the internet.” What does WhatsApp do?
- One to One Messaging
- Group Messaging
- Image Sharing
- Video Sharing
- Document Sharing
- Location Sharing
- Video Calls
- All Unlimited
- All Private
One can envision a time in the future, where you will not actually sign up to a phone plan per se but use WhatsApp for all your communication needs. It is not a matter of IF your child will end up on WhatsApp, but of WHEN will your child end up on WhatsApp and HOW they will use WhatsApp.
How to setup WhatsApp on Child Device:
- Download WhatsApp from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
- Open WhatsApp. It’s the green app with a white phone icon.
- Tap OK when prompted.
- Tap Agree & Continue.
- Type in your phone number.
- Tap Done.
- Open your phone’s Messages App.
- Tap the message from WhatsApp to confirm it’s you.
- WhatsApp is now setup.
Now let’s get into the tips on how to introduce it to your child, what to look out for and how to monitor your child’s WhatsApp.
Best Practices & What To Look Out For:
- Together with your child, review the WhatsApp Profile setting and select a picture that your child likes and you approve of. Then to go Account & Privacy. Here, it’s super important to at the minimum, set your child’s privacy settings to “My Contacts.” The options here are “Everyone”, “My Contacts” and “Nobody”
- Create a Family WhatsApp Group. It will become our family’s private gated online social group. Share pictures, videos, make plans and communicate with family members. A great way to practice the skills required before venturing out into the online social media world.
- Writing Etiquette: Is the language and writing style that your child is using to your standards? Consider installing Grammarly as a keyboard for your child’s device.
- Do you see any bad words being used or anything that could be considered bullying? If so, have a conversation with your child about it. If it is serious bullying, involve your school principal or school’s police officer. Schools are remarkably well equipped to deal with these issues.
- Fake News & Hoaxes: It can spread like wildfire through private groups. Have a conversation with your child about what is real news, what is fake, what to get excited about and what not to continue to spread. While at it, have a conversation about your stance on chain letters as they will also circulate.
- Teach your child to protect their WhatsApp account. It does not require a password to access so if their phone is unlocked, anybody can go on it and impersonate your child and usually when this happens it ends up being your child accused of sending inappropriate content, bullying or using nasty language.
- Sexting: A huge topic with 1 in 4 teens admitting that they are sexting. Learn more about sexting and have a conversation with your child about your house rules when it comes to sexting.
- Pornography: On the internet, there are ways to keep your child safe (Use SPIN Safe Browser) where Google Searches are made safe and pornographic websites are blocked but in the realm of WhatsApp, there is no filter WhatSoEver (pun intended) so have a conversation of what to do when a pornographic image or video is sent to them.
- Stranger Danger: Getting into a conversation with a stranger on WhatsApp will not happen automatically as there is no method for anybody to search for your child’s WhatsApp account since you set the Privacy to “My Contacts” so a stranger will have to be added as a Contact on your child’s device. This will require social engineering. Be aware of all the Apps that your child has installed, the websites that your child visits, and especially ensure that there are no Anonymous Chat Apps & if your child device is an Android, use Boomerang to Approve New Apps.
- Block WhatsApp just before Bedtime & allow it again after breakfast to ensure that your child has a great sleep. Use Boomerang Parental Control and setup your child’s bedtime schedule during which time the device becomes “bricked.”
- Graduation! Remove the training wheels and stop monitoring your child’s WhatsApp account when the time comes. It’s important to keep this in mind and have a ‘graduation’ process. Remind yourself on the potential horrors of helicopter parenting. Our role is to help you have engaging conversations with your child and raise a great digital citizen.
How to monitor WhatsApp for Free:
This requires the parent to have a computer with a browser
- Go to https://web.whatsapp.com/ from your computer’s browser.
- Now, go to your child’s phone phone and follow the steps in the image below:
- That’s it. You are now synced with your child’s WhatsApp account and can guide them.