What is the GroupMe app and is it Safe?

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What is the GroupMe app and is it Safe?

March 4, 2020
Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Table of Contents

GroupMe is a messaging app owned by Microsoft. Users can send group or private messages from their computer or phone using WiFi. This app is extremely popular among students. Users can chat with friends (or strangers) for free, share emojis and GIFs, and set up calendar events.

Smart Social wants to caution parents that students can send and receive messages on GroupMe without limits and there is no way for users to delete past posts.

What is the GroupMe app?

Group Me Screen shot: "Connections that count" Stay in touch with the people who matter most.
  • GroupMe is a messaging app where users can send group or private messages from their computer or phone using WiFi
  • Users sign up using their Facebook, Microsoft/Skype account, or their email
  • Users are prompted to verify their phone number through a text message
  • GroupMe then asks the user to grant the app access to the contacts on their phone and their location
  • Aside from basic messaging capabilities, the app offers emojis (both free and for purchase) and GIFs
  • Users can also create calendar events and invite their friends directly in the app, create polls, or send photos and videos

GroupMe cheating scandals in the news

The Cougar headline: UT GroupMe cheating Scandal causes students to resent app
After information about an upcoming test was posted in an introductory anthropology class GroupMe chat, about 70 students at the University of Texas at Austin are facing either automatic failing grades or expulsion for being members of the group message. The Cougar, student-run newspaper
ABC 6 headline: OSU students caught cheating via "GroupMe" app
Graduation for dozens of The Ohio State University students is in jeopardy after… an investigation… found that 83 students in the Fisher College of Business were using [GroupMe] for ‘unauthorized collaboration on graded assignments.’ ABC6 News

Some students forget that GroupMe chats are never really private since anyone can take screenshots

Yahoo finance headline: Florida sorority suspended for scandalous group chats: fake IDs, cheating, drunk driving
[A sorority at the University of Central Florida] has been suspended after allegations of its members posting an explicit photo, offering payment to complete schoolwork and swapping IDs to buy alcohol [on the GroupMe app]. Yahoo! News

Why should parents care?

  • Some students favor the GroupMe app because the content of a message isn’t displayed when notifications pop up on their device. This feature makes it easy for students to hide negative behavior or content from their parents
  • Parents have reported instances of kids using the app solely to bully others
  • There is no way for users to delete old messages, bringing concerns over a user's ability to control content
  • Since activity from the GroupMe app doesn’t show up on their parents’ phone bill (like text messages), students could use the app to hide their messaging activity
  • GIFs available on GroupMe can showcase mature or inappropriate content
  • The app has built-in features that allow users to search the web directly from the app. There is no way to moderate or filter that content
  • Users can enable geo-location, which encourages them to chat with strangers nearby. This feature can be very dangerous since predators can use it to target victims in their area
  • GroupMe's privacy policy promises to never share users' phone numbers or email addresses with other group members, but parents should be aware that within 10 minutes of our team verifying their phone number with GroupMe, we started to receive spam phone calls

What can parents do?

  • Even though some apps allow students to send unlimited messages, take time to discuss and set limits on how much your teen can use texting/messaging apps to connect with their friends
  • Remind your teen of the importance of keeping their messages Light, Bright and Polite, because any message they send online, on social media, or through text messaging can be shared by someone else. Even if the person wanted the message to remain private
  • Talk with your students about the dangers of:
  • chatting with strangers online
  • sharing personal information on apps, like GroupMe
  • sharing your location on a messaging app

Conclusion

When you’re ready for your teen to have access to messaging apps, check out our Parent App Guide page and encourage your student to use the messaging apps in our Green Zone.

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