Today the term WhatsApp has become synonymous with talking, and there is no self-respecting teenager who does not use it. In Spain , 76% of children between 11 and 14 years old use WhatsApp regularly. Through the mobile phone they send unlimited messages, photos, videos and voice recordings. And, this messaging application that uses the mobile internet is one of the main reasons why children ask their parents for a mobile phone . But do we really know what it is?
WHAT IS IT AND WHAT IS IT FOR?
WhatsApp is an instant messaging service that you can install on your mobile phone, and that allows, through an internet connection (Wi-Fi or mobile data rate), to chat in real time with those people on your contact list that also have the application installed. It was created in January 2009 by the company WhatsApp Inc., created by Jan Koum.
WHATSAPP ALLOWS YOUR CHILDREN TO CHAT IN REAL TIME WITH THEIR FRIENDS
From the Google Play stores (for Android) and iTunes App Store (for iPhone) you can download the application, being necessary to allow you to access our contact list in order to use it. Once access is authorized, WhatsApp will identify the phone numbers from our directory and will detect those that share the application.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The handling of WhatsApp is very simple. The main options of the navigation menu are:
– Favorites : in this section you will find the contacts you talk to most frequently.
– Chats : here are all the group conversations that have been held.
– Contacts : from here you access your agenda.
– Settings : used to configure the application. You can view your account information, make changes to the font or wallpaper size, and edit your profile.
To use this messaging system, you must access the application and press the “Contacts” button . Select the desired person from the list that appears. A new page will open with your file, to start the conversation click on “send to …”. The conversation will be saved in the “Chats” section. To talk to more than one person at the same time, you must click the “Create group” button to be able to invite different contacts chosen from the phonebook. You can also broadcast a message to more than one contact at the same time. Once a message has been sent , two ticks will appear next to the content, the first means that it has been sent correctly; and the second that has reached the addressee ; but there is no way to know if it has seen it.
THE DANGERS OF WHATSAPP IN CHILDREN
The fact that your children use this application to keep in touch with their friends, has nothing wrong in itself, but it requires control and following a few simple tips. The danger is that it stopped being just a messaging system, to become a new social network , for which they do not need a computer and that they constantly carry with them. Children create groups, add their friends, and exchange documents.
The level of dedication is such that many do not find the time to turn off the mobile phone at night, in case a last message arrives. And the first thing they do when they get up is turn on the device to check for new messages. It can generate a level of dependency similar to that of the computer. And it is that, for your children, WhatsApp is a social network . Therein lies the danger, because unlike the rest of the social networks that we know: Facebook , Twitter, Tuenti …, the application is not registered as such, and that is why it is not subject to security regulations.
ONE OF THE FLAWS OF WHATSAPP IS ITS SECURITY
There is also the problem of immediacy. Files and texts are sent over the internet in a matter of seconds. The impulsiveness of adolescents makes them vulnerable, because once sent it cannot be eliminated . In addition, in recent times the problem of harassment has appeared, its use to spread slander, photographs of others without authorization and “sexting”, dissemination of intimate photos taken of minors. For all these reasons, it is necessary for parents to monitor their use, as is done with the computer.
TIPS FOR USE
More and more new generations use the computer, the Internet, social networks and mobile phones, so parents should know some tips for their use properly. Experts say that there is no specific age for children to start using Whastsapp , as it is not a problem as long as its use is carried out under parental control. However, the most conflictive age is between 13 or 14 years old. There are some tips that parents should teach them :
-Act as if what they write or send is public , and think about the consequences of the material sent, wondering what would happen if I lose control.
-They must learn to protect their privacy and not provide personal information . Warn them of the false feeling of talking to friends, as there may be someone in the group with other intentions. And of course don’t talk to people you don’t know.
-Beware of chain messages and the use of Wi-Fi network , as they can hack into the network and access your content.
-It is convenient to delete the conversation histories , except in case of harassment. Since the police authorities indicate that it can serve as evidence in case of complaint.