group chat

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Group Chats

Messaging and group chats have become the most commonly used form of communication in society today. Things that once required a phone call and a conversation are now quick buzzes in our hands with brief snippets of information. Whether through text, iMessage, or a messaging app, the convenience is multiplied when a group chat is created. Now, messaging is exponentially magnified as several people exchange words, pictures, memes, and videos at lightning speed. 

All of this quick communication can be very enticing for kids and teens. For kids today, being included in the group chat of your peers is like being invited to sit at the table of friends. Jokes are exchanged, people are teased, and laughs are shared. But like all other teen and tween interactions, it’s not all fun and games. Harsh words and inappropriate content can often make their way into the chat. 

We’ve compiled five key elements of group chats that parents should monitor. Being aware of these factors will help you guide your child through the sometimes anxious group chat experience.

Whether it’s inappropriate content or the stress of keeping up with the conversation, your child will likely experience some issues related to a group chat. 

      1. The Pressure to Perform

Group chats are a place where kids feel included or left out. Even if you are in the group chat but can’t keep up with the conversation, you are missing what is being shared.  FOMO (fear of missing out) can be so intense for kids that they stay connected to their phones and tablets, constantly checking the group chat to keep themselves a part of the conversation.

      2. Lost in Translation

Remind your child to be thoughtful with their words. Text-based communication is devoid of tone, facial expression, and body language. Without these non-verbal clues, messages can be misunderstood and lead to hurt feelings, teasing, and cyberbullying. Emojis can help express a feeling along with a statement, but they should be used appropriately.

      3. The Mean Machine

Group chats are breeding grounds for negativity, teasing, and mean behavior. Talk to your child about being an upstander and ensuring they are not encouraging, creating, or influencing poor behavior. 

      4. The Over-sharing Zone

In their excitement, children may say things they wouldn’t normally do, and the embarrassment is magnified with multiple people in the chat. Inappropriate language, embarrassing photos, or poor behavior might leave your child feeling shameful. Teach your child to practice pausing and thinking before typing. 

      5. The Friend Factor

All teen and tween friendships are not equal. Teach your child to exclude people who fill the group chat with negativity, bullying, teasing, and other inappropriate behavior. You don’t want them to feel guilty by association and also don’t want these chats to be a source of stress and negativity in their lives. 

group chat

How to help your child manage the group chat:

  1. Set expectations:

As you would review etiquette with your child before bringing them to a friend’s house, holiday, or event, discussing appropriate behavior in a group chat should be standard. Warning your child about the potential risks while supporting their choice to participate in the social atmosphere of a group chat is critical. Set clear expectations for their behavior in the chat and discuss potential consequences for unacceptable behavior.

      2. Limit time in the chat

Parental controls or apps like MMGuardian to limit screen time are valuable tools, and the group chat should be included in that limit. Setting limits for usage and hours of the day helps ensure your child isn’t spending all of their time in the group chat and into the late hours of the night.

      3. Get info without being a snoop.

Trust is essential when giving your child independence. If you want peace of mind that your child’s group chats are appropriate but don’t want to peak into their phone, there’s an app for that. MMGuardian will allow you to set and adjust parental controls from your phone. It will be a careful watchdog and alert you to inappropriate or threatening language or content. 

MMGuardian also built a smartphone with all of the same controls. Instead of downloading an app your child may try to manipulate, the parental controls are built-in and children cannot bypass them. Click here to get an MMGuardian Phone for your child.

There are so many dangers for children in the digital world today. Even a well-seasoned teen needs reminders and support to protect them from potential threats. While keeping them from social interaction through group chat is unnecessary, teaching our children how to behave appropriately and what to do when others do not is best. Use these tips and tools, and your child can enjoy group chats and make memories with friends. 

Group chats are a normal part of growing up. Whether your child has a phone, tablet, or gaming device, they will inevitably participate in a group chat in their teen to tween years. Since they use this form of communication so heavily, it is important to allow them to participate in it with proper guidelines.

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