19% of young people between 15 and 25 years old use WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging application with more than 2 billion active users worldwide. 19% may not sound like much, but it is the third most represented group, only behind users between 26 and 45 years old. The question, as parents, should we use parental controls with WhatsApp for Android or iPhone?
After the difficult decision to provide a minor with a smartphone so that they can communicate with us and their friends, more questions arise. What applications and games do we advise you to install? Shall we talk about usage times ? In the case at hand, WhatsApp, there are many doubts. Will you be sure? Who will you talk to ? Will you be able to contact strangers?
It is not easy to maintain a balance between the privacy of our children and their security with applications like WhatsApp. A parental control for WhatsApp on Android or iPhone can pave the way, but it does not completely replace our active role and continuous dialogue as parents .
WhatsApp and minors
The official WhatsApp page says that if you live in “in a country of the European Economic Area (including the European Union )”, “you must be at least 16 years of age (or older, if required by your country’s legislation) to register and use WhatsApp ”. For other countries, the minimum age drops to 13 years.
WhatsApp and the safety of the minor
If your son or daughter is going to use WhatsApp as a minor, it is very likely that you want to set certain limits to protect them and that they do not encounter surprises or problems. It is something that we must keep in mind in instant messaging and on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. As in physical life, we must monitor who our child interacts with . There is no integrated parental control for WhatsApp, but it does have certain settings that will do part of the job .
First of all, we can find out who sees the WhatsApp user information . From Settings> Account> Privacy we can make that only your children’s contacts can see that information. The other available options are Everyone and Nobody . The information to be protected is: last minute connected, profile picture, status, description and / or message reading confirmations.
In that section we will also have the opportunity to limit WhatsApp groups. That is, we can indicate who can add your children to a WhatsApp group : Everyone, Nobody or their WhatsApp contacts.
In Settings> Account> Privacy we will also find the option to show the location live . If we are doing it in a conversion or group, we will see it there.
Another interesting element to protect minors on WhatsApp is to use user blocking . In Settings> Account> Privacy> Blocked contacts you will see the contacts that you have blocked. You can add new contacts from there or block them directly in a conversation. By blocking someone, you will stop receiving messages, calls and status updates.
Tips for a good use of WhatsApp
For many security and privacy measures that WhatsApp brings with it, such as a parental control for WhatsApp on Android or iPhone, anyone can make relatively free use of this messaging app. This implies that they can be misused or put to good use . As with social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok , on WhatsApp we can run into rude people, Internet trolls or even accounts dedicated to spreading lies and fake news to, directly, harmful links or phishing scams .
Thus, it is necessary to recommend certain practices with WhatsApp to the minor to avoid scares or unpleasant problems. To start, limit WhatsApp contacts to the essentials. Family, friends, classmates, teachers … Avoid contacts with those who do not know in person. They and we.
It is convenient that we instill in our children that the telephone number , mobile lead the one used by WhatsApp, is a personal data. Something that we cannot give just like that, like the address where we live. Related to this, it is also necessary for the minor to know that they cannot provide personal data lightly. Especially if unknown contacts ask .
Finally, if there is the case of contacts that behave in a suspicious way , we can report it to WhatsApp. When an unknown contact contacts someone on WhatsApp, we can report that contact or a group that we have been invited to without permission. You will find that option within the profile of the chat or group.