Social networks, apps and games


WhatsApp is an instant messaging app which lets you send messages, images and videos in one-to-one and group chats with your contacts. You can choose to share your live location for up to eight hours with one contact or a group.


Official age rating


Parent age rating

What do parents say?

Child age rating

What do children say?

At a glance

Kids use this to...





Expert view of the risks...


Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk


Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip


On WhatsApp privacy

If your child is receiving inappropriate messages, show them in settings how to block people they don't know from contacting them.

Top tips for staying safe

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why (and be prepared for an unhappy child).

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

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

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’t give your number to a stranger on the street. Is a stranger online 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 emails, names, phone numbers, school names
  • photos of themselves with strangers
  • photos of their body
  • gossip

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.

And if they feel like they can’t speak to you, tell them to talk to an adult they trust, like a teacher or Childline.

Your child might receive upsetting or negative things from other users on WhatsApp. If this happens, they might want to report or block them.  

WhatsApp has guidance on how to block other users, as well as general information on staying safe.

Take the time to explore this with your child, discussing when and why you might want to block somebody.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about anything they see online. 


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

What children and parents are saying about WhatsApp

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think.



What do children and young people dislike about WhatsApp?

  • Group chats can be used to bully people 
  • It can be addictive
  • You can't report

People can get hold of your number and send you bad things. But I like to send pics and have group chats with my friends.

Young person, 12

What do children and young people like about WhatsApp?

  • It’s an easy way to message friends and family 
  • You can block people
  • It's free to message over WiFi or using mobile data
  • Groups allow you to chat to lots of people at once

I like how I can text my friends and family really easily for free. It also allows me to be part of group chats. I think it is safe as long as you do not give your number out to random people.

Girl, 16



We asked parents about the following areas of WhatsApp

Signing up

It was easy and quick; every step was explained in a way that was very easy to understand.

Mum of an 18 year old

It seems to be very simple and anyone can access it as long as they have access to a mobile. 

Mum of 3 and 8 year old boys



I found the area to block people after a little bit of searching but could not find anywhere to report undesirable content.

Mum of 6 and 13 year olds

If a message comes from a number outside your contacts, WhatsApp tells you and offers a block option.

Dad of 3 and 8 year old boys

Privacy settings 

Most parents thought it was to set your profile, account and location to private.

As long as you know that settings can be changed then it's easy to do.

Mum of a 14 year old girl

Safety and support

If you Google then it's easy to find out. But not via the app directly.

Mum of a 14 year old girl


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