LINE App: Avatars, Stickers, and Hidden Chats

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January 16, 2020

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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”

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
  • LINE’s terms of use says minors need permission from a parent to sign up, but there is no age verification requirement
  • 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)

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This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ app reviews at SmartSocial.com

This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

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.

Parent & educator training video

The LINE app is a big part of pop culture in parts of Asia

Fast Company headline: How Japan's line app became a culture-changing, revenue-generating phenomenon
Source: Fast Company
  • 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?

Screen shot of Line. Welcome to Line
  • 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”

BuzzFeed headline: 11 reasons LINE PLAY avatar life is the best.  And chatting with friends is taken to a whole-new level when you're an avatar
LINE app review by Smart Social
Source: Buzzfeed

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
LINE Screenshot of People Nearyby

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
  • LINE’s terms of use says minors need permission from a parent to sign up, but there is no age verification requirement
  • 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?

LINE Screenshot of Privacy screen
  • 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

Conclusion

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:


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LINE App: Avatars, Stickers, and Hidden Chats

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