There are tons of ways for kids to start group chats, from text messages and DMs to WhatsApp and Instagram. One of the most popular apps is GroupMe, and it’s commonly used for school projects and sports activities. Like many other chat apps, it has the potential for kids to encounter inappropriate content and experience bullying. In this post, we’ll break down what exactly GroupMe is and explain some of the dangers it presents to children.
What is GroupMe and How Does It Work?
Users sign up with their Facebook credentials, Microsoft/Skype logins, phone numbers, or email addresses, and are then able to send private or group messages to other users. GroupMe messaging works across platforms: All you need is a device (iPhone, Android, computer, or tablet) and Wi-Fi or cellular data to get connected.
GroupMe is primarily a group chatting app, but it also provides an option for direct messaging between individuals. Because of this, group members can then splinter into smaller groups once they have each other’s contact information.
One reason people like using GroupMe is that it’s easy to use for mixed iPhone and Android users. Plus, there are some fun features you won’t find anywhere else, including GIF, image, and video libraries. It has special emojis to use when chatting, and you can even create memes in-app.
Backdoor Access to Sexual Content
One major concern with GroupMe is how easy it is for kids to encounter sexual content on the platform. It’s not only from what other people share, either — kids can easily find explicit content using the GIF, image, and video search features. Kids can view the URL sources for these without even leaving the app. Unfortunately, this feature can’t be turned off, as GroupMe has no internal parental controls.
Past Posts Can’t Be Deleted
Unlike a text message or a tweet, GroupMe gives your kids no way to delete past messages they’ve posted. This means things sent in the heat of the moment or even by mistake can live on forever — which could lead to serious consequences down the line. Be sure to explain to your family how important their digital footprints are, especially with apps like this one.
Controversial Group Chats
In some reviews of this app, you’ll see a few parents complaining about group chats with offensive titles. While some kids may do this on purpose, others may just have received an invitation to a chat started by friends of friends, and have no idea what it’s really about. In some groups, they may not even know anyone in real life! Regardless of who’s in these groups, your kid could end up witnessing something you don’t want them exposed to, like drugs or inappropriate sexual content.
Bullying in GroupMe
The social dynamics of any group chat provide fertile ground for bullying, and GroupMe is no exception to this rule. Kids can decide to gang up on one chat member, making them feel ostracized or attacked. Screenshots can be taken and posted on other social sites, adding to feelings of isolation and aggression. Even something as simple as changing the title of a group chat can be considered bullying. For example, a group’s name could be maliciously changed to “Bella is sus.”
Adding and removing members of a group chat also becomes a way to bully and isolate. Each time a group member is added or removed, a message shows up as part of the group chat announcing their departure, leaving a breadcrumb trail of exclusion and hurt feelings.
Monitor GroupMe with Bark
Group chats are a pretty common part of life for kids in the digital age, but it’s important to remember that they can also be stressful and even dangerous. If you’re worried about what your child may encounter while using GroupMe, Bark can help. Monitor your child’s group messages and private messages, including any images and media associated with each. You’ll receive alerts when your child experiences a potential issue like bullying, suicidal ideation, or online predators — helping to keep them safe online and in real life.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.
Cook. Laundry-doer. Question-answerer. Crust-cutter-offer. Barbie-shoe finder. As a parent, these are just a few of the hats you wear on a daily basis that many non-parents may not actually know are just a part of the job. These important but unofficial duties inspired us to make a call for parenting quotes from our followers, and folks really delivered — sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. (P.S. If you are really feeling the ugly right now, try out some of these self-care activities with your kid and you might feel a little bit better.)
We asked parents on social media to tell us that they were parents without actually telling us they were parents, and we literally can’t stop laughing at all of the responses. Check out some of the super creative ways parents described what it’s like to raise kids today. We couldn’t make this stuff up.
15 Hilarious Relatable Parenting Quotes
- “I walk into the kitchen and every cupboard door is open, just like in the movie The Sixth Sense … Every. Single. Morning.”
- “This week: ‘No bananas! We all want bananas.’ Last week: Two bunches of overripe bananas. ‘We didn’t need bananas!’”
- “I slept in on Saturday until 7 am. 😂 ”
- “I have Cheerios in my car that the vacuum can’t reach.”
- “Why are there rocks in the fridge?”
- “I eat ice cream sandwiches in the bathroom sometimes.”
- “It doesn’t matter how many times I load the dishwasher there are always more dirty dishes.”
- “I pulled a fully wrapped string cheese out of the dryer.”
- “My fridge and cupboards are full of food, but there is nothing in the house to eat.”
- “I have two people who live at my house that call themselves ‘I didn’t do it.’”
- “There are fingers under the bathroom door when I pee.”
- “The floor does not spontaneously generate dirty underwear.”
- “Spaghetti night means bath night.”
- “I’m celebrating the cancellation of Caillou. 🥳🥳👏🏻💃🎉🎉”
- “I’ve caught vomit in my hands to keep it off the furniture.”
We hope you enjoyed (and related to!) this roundup of some of the most side-splitting parenting quotes we received. Our team definitely connected to the highs and lows of being a parent — because at the end of the day, even after all of the living room shoe piles and dryer string cheeses, it’s so worth it. If you want to read all of the responses or even add your own, head on over to the original Facebook post. We can always use some more good laughs!
How do you define screen time for kids? Is it any time they’re focusing attention on their device? Or does it refer to something more specific, like when they’ve been scrolling TikTok for two hours and have tuned out the entire world? Do you count school and Zoom classes? What about reading on their Kindle before bed?
These questions show just how complicated the concept of screen time is right now for families. Many parents are super concerned (and rightfully so!) about how much time their kids are spending online. They’re also worried what it could be doing to their child’s emotional and physical well-being.
They’ve also continued to be a marketing juggernaut – producing podcasts, videos, blog posts, design resources and basically every form of media you can imagine.Franklin D. Roosevelt
But on the flip side, screens are also doing a lot of heavy lifting. We rely on them for nearly every activity in our lives, and kids right now are no exception. This post is meant to provide a little perspective on the issue of screen time. It all boils down to the fact that healthy screen time use looks different for every child, and there is no definitive number to stick to. We know parents all across the country are struggling, balancing parenting with working from home along with countless other stresses. It’s our hope that you’ll feel a little bit better about your kid’s relationship with screen time when you’re done reading.
Screen Time for Kids — Putting It in Perspective
Worrying about your children’s tech use is entirely natural right now. But a recent New York Times article has been creating a lot of fear and panic for many families (not to mention guilt) about the dangers of increased screen time during the pandemic. Don’t completely yank the iPad away and tighten up the household screen time regimen even more, though. We’ve got a few ways for you to think about the question of screen time with a little bit of perspective.
A Brief History of Technology, Kids, and Boredom
The constant battle against boredom is as old as childhood itself, and we can imagine exhausted parents saying “Go play outside!” as far back as ancient Rome. With the advent of the modern era, technology has continually brought new entertainment into our homes and lives. And for each successive generation, fears about new technology have always accompanied the new devices. Did you know that in 1931, parents feared that radio (a state-of-the-art invention at the time) would interfere with children’s interest in “conversation, music practice, group games and reading”? Today, radio is one of the most passive of all technologies, something you listen to while driving to the grocery store.
The same fears persisted throughout the decades — next came TV, then personal computers, video games, and now phones and tablets. Fears over kids succumbing to the hypnotic lure of that era’s technology remained very real. But every generation since the 1930s has managed to adapt to using new technology, and so has society as a whole. Should kids get unlimited access to screen time? Definitely not, but taking advantage of technology to engage them in an unprecedented time of domestic upheaval probably isn’t the worst idea, either.
Let’s be honest: boredom for kids during a pandemic is real. Very real. Sleepovers, school days, birthday parties, trips to the zoo, vacations, weekend plans — these all have been stripped away from children or look very different today. There are only so many five-minute crafts and scavenger hunts that your family can do in one year. Being able to play video games and watch nearly any TV show or movie ever created is a real blessing in a time when it’s not always safe to leave your house.
Look Behind Your Child’s Screen Time
Being concerned about too much screen time isn’t usually just about the technology. It often can mean a parent is worried about bigger issues like:
- Lack of physical activity the child may be getting
- Eye strain
- Irritability/crankiness when interrupted
- Less face-to-face interaction with other people
- Disengagement with family members and responsibilities
These are all valid reasons to worry, and why it’s super important to have open, honest, and regular conversations with your child, especially if you notice a pattern of behavior developing. While screen time may not necessarily be the sole cause of all these concerns, it can definitely exist alongside them, as well as make them worse. If you’re seriously concerned about your child’s mood or behavior, we recommend talking to a school counselor, your family doctor, or a mental health professional.
Recognize When It’s a Coping Mechanism
There’s a difference between a child playing their fifth game of Fortnite in a row on a Saturday afternoon and a kid scrolling through TikTok at 2 a.m. on a Monday because they’re super anxious and can’t sleep. As a parent, you can probably tell when your child is using the internet as a coping mechanism — most likely because you can relate (looking at you, Instagram and Twitter). There’s a real fear for many families that their kids will become addicted to screens as their sole source of pleasure since not much else is going on — especially now that it’s winter and outdoor socialization is harder to arrange. Fortunately, there are ways to help reinforce healthy tech use.
The Importance of Boundaries
If you’re afraid your child is depending too heavily on their screens for happiness, we feel you. To prevent them from scrolling all night long, you can use a few different tools to help manage their time. First, consider a no-phones-in-the-bedroom-at-night rule, and instead charge all your family’s devices in a communal place like the kitchen. You can also sit down and draft a tech contract with your kids, laying down ground rules and expectations for device use. Finally, if you’re still struggling with screen time arguments, you can manage the amount of time your kid can access the internet on their phone with Bark. Parents can set designated times for school, play, and sleep, plus you can customize what they can and can’t access in these blocks of time.
All Screen Time is Not Created Equal
The flip side of being constantly worried about the effects of technology is recognizing that it provides us with a link to the world that’s utterly irreplaceable. Can you imagine living through COVID-19 in 1995? No Netflix, no Zoom calls, no online grocery delivery. And for kids — no YouTube, no multiplayer video games with friends across the city (or world!), no Disney+ (just those squishy vinyl Disney VHS tapes).
Kids are incredibly resilient, and the transition from in-person interaction to online hanging out wasn’t nearly as jarring as it was for some adults. For kids, at the end of the day, the important thing is being able to see your cousin’s face on a Zoom call or hear your best friend’s voice while playing video games together.
My daughter has “tea” with my mom every week in French. (My mom is a retired French professor.) They use Zoom to chat and then she shares it on TikTok so others can learn French, too.
— Katey, Bark employee and mom of 2
Can you imagine a pandemic without online learning? For all of the challenges with it (and there are so, so many), the alternatives would be even more challenging. It’d probably be just piles of worksheets and the hope that your kid doesn’t ever have any questions.
My oldest is in tech theater in high school. His school has some really big productions. He is currently using a lighting app on his iPhone to control the LED lights for the entire stage, and it’s amazing! — Jodie, Bark employee and mom of 2
There are so many apps and websites that provide kids with a way to write, draw, color, and more — whether they’re busting out the colored pencils at their desk or using an iPad to create awesome digital sketches.
“My son has found so many craft and drawing tutorials. His drawing skills and craft skills have really improved. I also love that he’s learned how to search YouTube for tutorials instead of just scrolling for entertaining videos to watch. — Rick, Bark employee and dad of 2
Being cooped up in the house during a pandemic in the middle of winter means it’s not as easy for kids to expend some of that youthful energy. Fortunately, there are tons of websites, apps, and videos that encourage you to move your body!
“My younger son uses technology to stay in shape. Various apps and YouTube videos give him ideas and help him stay motivated. Then he Zooms with a few friends so that they can work out together and he’s made some pretty cute fitness videos. He’s 12, and they are hysterical!” — Leslie, Bark employee and mom of 3
From making TikTok videos and starting podcasts to curating YouTube and Twitch channels, many kids are using the internet to help them express themselves.
“The pandemic forced my son to become a better producer of music and not just a songwriter and rapper. He bought some online music theory courses and watched YouTube videos to learn how to play the keyboard and mix music. He released a five-song EP and a stand-alone single seven months after the pandemic started, and it was all because he had the time to learn through technology.” — Matt, Bark employee and dad of 2
Try and Be Gentle With Yourself
Parenting during a pandemic is courageous, and you’re doing the best you can with what you have right now. Strangers on the internet may disagree about the proper amount of screen time for kids, but you know your children best. Keep an eye on them and try to accentuate the positive when you can. One day, you’ll look back at the idea of a Zoom birthday party and probably have a good laugh with your kids. But right now, screen time — and activities like this — are a part of your family’s life and are helping to keep you connected, and that’s a good thing.