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What is GroupMe and is It Safe?

by | Feb 28, 2021 | Social Media Monitoring

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. 

About Bark

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.

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