Social networks, apps and games
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Messenger

Messenger is a free chat app that lets you send messages, photos, videos and audio recordings, and play games with your Facebook friends and phone contacts. You need a Facebook account to use Messenger.

13+

Official age rating

At a glance

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Expert view of the risks...

Sexual

Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip

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Show your child how to report and block

Messenger has reporting and blocking tools which your child can use if they receive an unwelcome message.

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What you should know

 

Messenger lets you send messages, video chat and play games

 

Messenger lets you send written messages, photos, videos, audio recordings and location to your Facebook friends and phone contacts, either one on one or in groups of up to 250 people. It also lets you video chat with up to 50 people at one time, using Messenger Rooms. So make sure you talk to your child about what they’re sharing online using our tips below and read our advice on video chatting.

 

Messenger also lets you play games with your contacts. There are a variety of different games, so we recommend talking to your child about what they’re playing, and who they’re playing with, to see if it’s appropriate.

 

Messenger Stories let you share photos and videos for 24 hours

 

Messenger lets you share photos and videos using the Story feature (similar to Instagram Stories). These photos and videos then appear at the top of your Messenger inbox and at the top of your Facebook News Feed for 24 hours before disappearing.

 

By default, Stories can only be seen by your Facebook friends, but you can edit this to make stories more private, by choosing select people. Facebook has information on how to choose who can see your Stories, which we recommend exploring with your child.

Top tips for staying safe

Sitting down with your child and exploring their favourite app or game is a great way for you to learn more about what they like to do online.

You can ask them why they like to use an app or play certain games, as well as who they’re talking to and what sorts of things they’re sharing.

You can also read our Net Aware reviews for tips on how to keep kids safe on popular apps, sites and games.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You shouldn't give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

If your child receives upsetting or inappropriate messages from their contacts on Messenger they might want to report or block them.

Reporting – You can report a one on one or group chat by clicking on the ‘i’ icon and selecting ‘Something’s wrong’. Facebook has more information on reporting conversations.

Blocking – You can also block a person on a one on one chat, or block a member of a group chat by clicking on the ‘i’ icon and selecting ‘Block’. Facebook has more information on blocking.

Explore these features together and talk about when they might need to use them. And remind them they can talk to you, another adult they trust or Childline about anything they’ve seen online.

Messenger lets you choose whether people can contact you using your phone number or not. If this is turned on, people with your child’s phone number will be able to send them a message. If it’s turned off, when somebody sends your child a message using their phone number it will go to ‘Message requests’.

‘Message requests’ is a place where spam messages or messages from people you don’t know go to. Your child can still see these messages and can choose to reply.

It’s important to remind your child not to reply to people they don’t know and to use the ‘I don’t want to hear from…’ option in message requests to stop that person messaging again.

Facebook has details on how to change who can send messages to your Messenger inbox.

Facebook has created a lot if information on how to stay safe while using Messenger. Take the time to explore this information and talk about it with your child.

Facebook, which owns Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Threads from Instagram, is constantly updating their privacy and safety features. So it’s important to regularly revisit their information and explore the new features with your child to make sure you’re both happy with the apps.

Facebook also has a portal for parents with tips and advice which you might find useful.

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

It’s important to remind your child that they can talk you, another adult they trust, like a teacher, or Childline about anything they see online.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

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