How to Create a Safe Chat App for Kids
In the early 2000s, a 12-year-old would beg his parents for a phone like his friends. But it’s 2023, and children are born with mobile phones in their hands. Before they can speak, they will ask for a phone to contact their friends and family. Unfortunately, chat apps aren’t always safe for kids. If they stumble upon the wrong person, they could be exposed to inappropriate material. The possibilities are endless, but this article’s purpose isn’t to make anyone worry. Instead, we offer an alternative; a chat app for kids. This article gives you an insight into the importance of making a kid’s chat app and a walkthrough for creating one.
Should Parents Supervise their Kids?
They should, but it’s not simple, especially with older kids. Not to say that it’s easy with the younger ones, no one likes to feel watched, and they might interpret it as a lack of trust. But teens would never allow their parents to view their contacts and chats. Generally, if parents can discreetly monitor the conversation for their younger kids, they should do that to protect them.
So how would parents sleep well at night if they couldn’t monitor their kids’ chats? They would when they know that the chat app the kids are using is safe and wouldn’t put them in harm’s way. In the following sections, we’ll discuss what makes a chat app safe for kids.
Why a Regular Chat App Is Probably Dangerous
- The kids might get contacted by strangers with bad intentions. Let’s face it, the world is full of malicious people, and they target the most innocent of us. Most chats allow anyone to find others with a phone number or a username.
- Most chat apps have location tracking. If the stranger finds the child, there’s no telling what they can do. They might even send their location to a child and ask them to go to that location. Remember that kids believe anything.
- Cyberbullying is a huge concern these days. Its dangers are unpredictable and countless because teenagers are fragile and sensitive. Your child could be subjected to bullying, or they could be the bully for all you know. In both cases, an adult needs to intervene.
- Some teenagers don’t understand that an adult shouldn’t be flirting with them, also known as grooming. They don’t understand the perils, even if they’re familiar with the term. So, prevention is important to prevent any future complications.
- We all know that there are things a child, until the age of 18, shouldn’t be exposed to. The danger here could come from their peers or older people. It could be obscenity or gore, among other things. What matters is; parents want to keep their children safe.
Must-have Features in a Kids Chat App
This one seems self-explanatory. However, the chat part differs a bit from any other app. Media sharing should be prohibited or monitored. And the child shouldn’t be able to edit or delete the message. That’s because an edit or delete function would allow the child to rid of messages they shouldn’t be sending or receiving. In a chat app designed for kids, it’s crucial to have a robust messaging feature that takes into account their safety and accountability. By utilizing a Chat API, the app can prevent the sharing of inappropriate media content and restrict the child’s ability to edit or delete messages, ensuring a secure and monitored communication environment.
Audio and Video Calling with Permission
Audio and video calling is a fun ways for children to contact their friends and family. However, it can get dangerous for them to do it with the wrong people. That’s why children should get permission before sending or receiving an audio or video call. The guardians would link their phones to the kids and get alerts before the child starts a call. Or they would set a password on the kids’ phones that only they know. In both cases, the audio and video call should be initiated with permission; even better if the parent can be in the same room when their child is on the call.
A group chat is dangerous because it can link the child with the wrong people. Imagine if your child’s friend has a family member with bad intentions. That family member could hunt other kids in the group chat. For these reasons, group chats should be limited or prohibited. Another way to solve this is by preventing people from contacting people who aren’t on their contact list.
The other problem with group chat is that it can get infested with cyberbullying. Many children succumb to peer pressure when it comes to targeted bullying. To solve this, a group chat should be monitored or supervised. And children should be educated about bullying and reporting it.
While every other chat app has a contact list, a contact list in a kids’ app has something extra. It should be synced with the parents’ account. This ensures that the child doesn’t contact anyone the parent doesn’t approve of or know.
The bot is a feature that seems extra, but it’s the most important feature in the app. The bot filters messages and alerts the parent or guardian of inappropriate language. The app’s creator can make a list of words that trigger the alerts, and when someone sends them, the parents get notified to check the conversation and ensure it’s safe.
Some Fun Elements
If the app is safe, it can still be boring for children, specifically younger ones. The app developer can add fun elements, like colorful stickers, emojis, frames, and video decorations. When designing the app, the creator can create two modes, a vibrant one for younger children and a bit of a neutral one for teenagers because they’re surely too cool for vivid colors.
A Version for Parents
The parent version is different from the kids’ version. Not only can they monitor their kid’s activities and approve calls and new contacts, but they can also get educated on keeping their kids safe without falling into the traps of being overprotective. A daily tip and weekly blog would help them immensely. Moreover, they can use the app to contact other parents when their kids meet and ensure that all the little monsters’ stories check out.
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