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GroupMe App Guide for Parents, Educators, & Students (2024)

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February 15, 2023

Unlock this lesson to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on GroupMe

This GroupMe app guide will help parents learn: 

  • Why GroupMe is so popular with students
  • Why parents should care about GroupMe
  • Tips to keep students safe while using GroupMe

In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

Learn why parents and educators should care about GroupMe

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GroupMe App Guide for Parents, Educators, & Students (2024)

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GroupMe is a popular messaging app owned by Microsoft that is often used by school groups, sports teams, or groups of friends.  Students frequently use the app to send private or group messages and many parents wonder if GroupMe is safe for their students to use. 

Student, parent, & educator training video

(This student-friendly video can be shown in the classroom or at home)

Educators and parents: Guide your students' reflection and discussion with this student worksheet. (Log in to your Google account and select File-->Make a Copy)

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

What is GroupMe?

  • GroupMe is a free, messaging app where users can send either direct messages or group messages from their computer or mobile device using WiFi
  • Users can send and share photos, videos, GIFs, polls, files, and create events
  • Students have the option to join their school community to connect with others in the same school by entering their school email address
  • When registering for a GroupMe account, users must be able to verify a phone number to be associated with the account

Top Concerns of GroupMe

Screenshot from GroupMe
  • Students can share their exact location with others through the app and when their geo-location is enabled, they can easily connect with nearby strangers
  • Since activity from GroupMe doesn’t show up on their parents’ phone bill (like text messages), students could use the app to hide their messaging activity
  • GroupMe does not offer end-to-end data encryption, which means that anyone in the company can read the messages

What can parents & educators do?

  • Turn off the location-sharing feature and discuss with students why it’s not safe to share your location with others through apps
  • Remind students that messages sent privately are never truly private because anyone could take a screenshot of a message and share it with other people
  • Encourage students to turn off “Enable sharing” from their profile to keep their account more private
  • Since GroupMe messages are separate from text messages, parents should remember to open the app to monitor messages

Additional Information about GroupMe

Screenshot from GroupMe
  • Group members can add others to the group chat that don’t have the app, as long as they have a phone number.  GroupMe messages can be sent through SMS messaging which means that students don’t have to have the app on their phone to view or respond to messages from a group chat
  • There is no way to delete messages sent within the app, although users can “hide” messages on their own device that they have sent to others
  • Microsoft also owns Skype, and GroupMe users are able to video chat with others (privately or within groups) through the app using Skype
  • Spam is prevalent on GroupMe and students may receive messages from unknown users or from bots
  • When searching for GIFs and videos to share through the app, students may easily come across mature content

What is GroupMe rated?

GroupMe logo

Apple App Store rating: 12+

Google Play Store rating: E (Everyone)

Owned by Microsoft

Privacy Policy

Services Agreement

Additional tips for families

  • Remind students that GroupMe can comply with government requests to reveal personal messages if they are asked to do so (Source: Screenrant)
  • Remind students that they should not respond to messages received from unknown users.  Create a Family Media Agreement WITH your student and talk about your family’s plan for how to handle interactions with strangers and how to appropriately use this group chat app

Privacy/setting recommendations for GroupMe

Turn off Location Sharing

  • Tap the person icon in the bottom right corner of the app
  • Tap “Settings”
  • Scroll down and tap “Open settings app” to take you to your device settings for GroupMe
  • Tap “Location” and make sure “Never” is checked

Do not allow GroupMe to access phone contacts

  • Go to the GroupMe “Settings” menu 
  • Scroll down to “Sync contacts to server” and turn off (gray)

Turn off "Enable sharing"

  • To keep their account more private, students can turn off "Enable sharing"
  • Tap the person icon in the bottom right corner
  • Tap "Edit Profile"
  • Make sure "Enable sharing" is turned off (gray)

Turn off notifications

  • To decrease distractions for students, consider turning off all notifications
  • Go to the GroupMe “Settings” menu
  • Under “NOTIFICATIONS & SOUNDS”, turn “Enhanced notifications” to off (gray)
  • Consider turning notifications off from the phone settings menu
  • Tap “Open settings app”
  • Tap “Notifications”
  • Turn “Allow Notifications” to off (gray)

How to block another GroupMe user (Private Message)

How to block a user
  • Tap the message icon at the bottom left 
  • Tap the message
  • Tap on the other user’s icon in the top right corner
  • Tap the three dots for More
  • Tap “Block”

How to block another GroupMe user (from a group)

  • Tap the message icon at the bottom left 
  • Tap the group message
  • Tap on the user’s photo to the left of their message
  • Tap the photo in the top right corner
  • Tap the three dots for More
  • Tap Block

What others are saying about GroupMe

Examples of GroupMe in the news

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 GroupMe]. - Yahoo! News
UT GroupMe cheating scandal causes student 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

Why do students want to be on GroupMe

  • It’s an easy method for students using Android, Apple, or Windows devices to communicate together and not have to worry about the different functions of each type of phone (Apple’s blue text bubbles vs. Android’s green bubbles)
  • Students can be a part of large chat groups with the ability to remove themselves from the groups and they can participate in multiple chat groups within one app
  • Compared to other group chat apps, GroupMe makes it very easy to search and share GIF’s, images, and videos
  • GroupMe messages do not get recorded on parents’ phone bills, which some students may find attractive

What do other parents say about  GroupMe

Mature content available. I was surprised to find a bunch of mature/pornographic GIFS available. This is especially frustrating since many of my son's school groups use this app. Just search various things in the GIFs and you will see what is available. I wouldn't want any age kid to see this. - Parent, Common Sense Media

Conclusion

GroupMe is a popular group chat app that many students use to communicate with their friends, school groups, clubs, or sports teams.  Parents should be aware of the features of this SmartSocial Gray Zone app and make sure that they are having continuous conversations with their students about the potential dangers of using the GroupMe app.

More resources for parents, students, & educators

Learn about another popular messaging app: WhatsApp Safety Guide for Parents & Students

Learn more about another popular messaging app for groups and classes: Remind App Guide: What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

Listen to Rachel and Andrea discuss the GroupMe app in this MomTalk podcast episode

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your membership plan. Click here to join.

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Unlock this lesson to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on GroupMe

This GroupMe app guide will help parents learn: 

  • Why GroupMe is so popular with students
  • Why parents should care about GroupMe
  • Tips to keep students safe while using GroupMe

In this guide, parents & educators will learn:

Learn why parents and educators should care about GroupMe

Log in or join the VIP membership today to view all SmartSocial.com resources about messaging apps!

Become a member or log in to learn more on this topic

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.
Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

Learn more

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