The LINE app allows users to chat, make new friends, and play in a social media network filled with cute stickers and avatars. It also gives students, who don’t have a cell phone plan, a free way to make calls and send texts. It’s a multi-functional app with hidden features and lots of safety settings that the Smart Social team wants parents to be aware of.
The LINE app is a big part of pop culture in parts of Asia
- LINE is often referred to as the “Facebook of Japan”
- LINE app marketing reports there are more than 600 million users worldwide (with most in Asia)
- It’s also becoming more popular in other parts of the world, including the US
What is the LINE app?
- The LINE app is a text, video, and voice-messaging social media app
- It also offers games, group chats, and a timeline
- The LINE app is available for download on mobile devices and computers
- It’s rated 12+ in the iOS App Store, but Smart Social doesn’t consider this app safe for tweens or younger teens
- Kids are drawn to the LINE app because it offers:
- Free texting and video calls (so they can chat with friends or strangers even if they don’t have a cell phone plan)
- Thousands of stickers and emoticons
- LINE Play, an avatar-based social network
- LINE Play users “create an avatar and meet friends from around the world”
What users say about Line app:
My daughter is only 9 years-old and has a tablet to play on for an hour a day. I found my daughter playing this app and people are messaging her about porn and sex and asking her to post pictures of her body!! This app should require a parental consent!
Parent of 9 year-old on CommonSense Media
I’d say Line is like the best thing that has ever happened to me since I’m not allowed to have a social media account. It’s easy to use, I can stay in touch with all my friends.
User on iOS App Store
Why should parents care?
- Line includes a feature called “Hidden Chat,” which is similar to Snapchat’s disappearing messages
- Users can choose how long they’d like their message to last before it vanishes: two seconds or up to a week
- “Hidden” messages also can include location information, pics, and video
- The LINE app has a “People Nearby” feature
- This feature must be disabled or strangers can identify nearby LINE users and send them friend requests
- Users take on new identities on LINE Play and can chat with strangers
- Kids who sign up as 12 years old or younger will not see ads and cannot private message with strangers
- In-app purchases are a big part of LINE
- Many emojis and games within the LINE app are purchased with coins (which cost real money)
What can parents do?
- It’s important for parents to have a discussion with their kids about the LINE app and why it may not be a good fit for your family
- Turn on privacy settings to make your “Public User ID” not public, add a passcode, and filter message from non-friends
- Disable the “people nearby setting”
- Limit or disable in-app purchases
- Encourage your children to keep their user IDs private and to only share with people they know in real life
- Remind students that “disappearing messages” don’t really disappear since anyone can take a screenshot
- Discuss the difference between reality and avatar play
- Consider setting app limits, since online games, including LINE Play, can become addicting
- Remind your student they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they experience anything negative on the LINE app
The LINE app is in the Smart Social Red Zone as an app we don’t recommend for students. Learn our top four reasons why here:
We have a series of courses aimed at teaching your kids the best ways to stay safe on social media: