Telegram Messenger Parent Guide

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May 19, 2021

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In this video lesson parents will learn:

  • What is Telegram Messenger App?
  • Why do students want to use Telegram?
  • Dangers of secret or disappearing messages on apps like this
  • Tips to talk with your student about messaging with strangers

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

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Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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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.

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Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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

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Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

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

Telegram Messenger is an app that offers unlimited instant messaging providing the possibility of extra secrecy with encrypted chats. Many messages sync across devices so users can access their chats on any internet-connected device (phone, tablet, computer, etc.) Users can join or host group chats with up to 200,000 other Telegram users.

Parent training video

What is Telegram Messenger?

telegram app logo
  • Telegram Messenger is a messaging app that is separate from the phone’s native messaging software
  • A users creates their account by confirming a cell phone number. They have the option to create a username and t.me/username link so other users can connect without exchanging phone numbers
  • Users can send files (photos, videos, etc.) of any type to contacts or groups in the app
  • Telegram Groups can contain up to 200,000 users at once
  • Channels broadcast to an unlimited number of users or users can communicate one-on-one
  • Users find other users by searching for a phone number or usernames. The app asks for permission to access the cell phone’s contacts, but it is not required to create an account or use the app
  • Voice calls, video calls, and voice chats in groups are available through the app
  • Users can access Group or Channel messages by accessing their Telegram account on any internet-connected device. Heads up:  if a student has lost their phone privileges, they could access Telegram messages on a computer or tablet)
  • Secret Chats provide end-to-end encryption. Only the sender and recipient can read or access the messages. Secret Chats can only be accessed on one device per user compared to Groups or Channels that can be accessed on any device the user logs into
  • Users cannot forward Secret Chats and can set a time for the messages to “disappear” from the message records
  • The app attempts to alert users if a screenshot is taken of the Secret Message. The company says “there is no bulletproof way of detecting screenshot”

Why do students want to use Telegram?

Screenshot of telegram "What is a Channel?" Channels are a one-to-many tool for broadcasting your messages to unlimited audiences.
  • Telegram Messenger provides a convenient way to send messages with a large group  of friends
  • By messaging through the app, students may think they can hide messages  from adults who monitor their cell phone usage. Users can set a unique passcode for the app to lock out others who may have access to their phone
  • Telegram offers encryption of specific messages. This might make teens think their messages are secure, regardless of whom they are messaging with
  • Like Snapchat and Instagram, Telegram Messenger offers stickers, gif searches, and a photo editor. Students often enjoy using the features to create fun messages
  • Users can share a “last seen status” with other users, which can make teens feel more connected to other users 
  • Telegram Messenger offers a “People Nearby" search. Teens can use this to easily connect with others who are on the app and are physically nearby

Where is Telegram available and what are the terms of use?

Telegram in the news

Forbes headline: Yes, Telegram really is 'dangerous' for you
[A] growing cyber threat where hackers use Telegram, the instant messaging app with over 500 million active users, as a command and control system. Forbes
Newsweek headline: Here are 15 apps dangerous for children as predators lurk and school begins, per police
‘Unfortunately, the internet allows for easy and anonymous access to children by strangers who are hiding behind a computer screen. That is why these operations are paramount to ensuring our most vulnerable population is safe and protected…’ Newsweek
The Verge headline: Apple removed Telegram from the App Store over distribution of child pornography
The Telegram apps were taken down off the App Store because the App Store team was alerted to illegal content, specifically child pornography, in the apps,” Schiller wrote to the user. “After verifying the existence of the illegal content, the team took the apps down from the store, alerted the developer, and notified the proper authorities, including the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). The Verge

Why should parents care?

  • Anyone with your student’s username can message them through the app
  • It is possible for users to see when another user is online. As a result, students feel peer pressure among their connections to check-in often
  • Using the “People Nearby” feature opens teens up to strangers knowing their location
  • “Secret” or “disappearing” messages encourages students to sometimes share photos or talk in ways they wouldn’t off the app. Consequently, child predators know how vulnerable young users are in these types of apps
  • By default, Telegram Messenger allows any member of a group to invite new members to a Group chat and as a result, a Group can quickly become populated by people your student doesn’t actually know
  • Activity on Telegram Messenger won’t show up on your phone bill, therefore, some students may be more inclined to act negatively when using this app
  • Experts in the security industry question the actual security the app promotes. Apple App Store has removed the app in the past for illegal content
  • If your student feels the need to set a unique passcode for the Telegram app, talk with them about why they feel it is necessary. Have them share this, and all their social media passwords with you

What can parents do?

Screen shot of Privacy and Security for Telegram app
Telegram Messenger Privacy and Security screen example
  • If your teen has the Telegram Messenger app, ask them how they use the app and who they are connected with
  • If there is a positive purpose for your students to use the app (like connecting with their sports team or school organization), download the app yourself.  Parents can explore how it works, connect with your student on the app, and set limits on what types of Groups or Channels they should be participating in
  • Talk about who your student should be talking with on the app. Even if they are in a group of trusted people, they should never share sensitive or personal information
  • Set Smart Notifications in the app or on the student’s phone’s settings to minimize distractions from incoming messages
  • Tell students to not share their phone number or t.me link with strangers or through other public social media messages
  • Talk about what to do if a stranger, or anyone, tries to blackmail them to send inappropriate photos of themselves through the app 
  • Encourage your student to use the block function if strangers or bullies contact them through the app. Consider removing their username if they are frequently contacted by strangers
  • Frequently talk with your students about who they are connecting with on Telegram Messenger
  • Remind your teens they can always come to you if they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Join the SmartSocial.com VIP (Very Informed Parent) program to learn more tips to keep your students safer online

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Telegram Messenger app connects users to large Groups or unlimited Channels of other users. Large chat groups can easily get out of control with unknown members. This certainly has the possibility of connecting your student to strangers through the app. The People Nearby feature is a threat to the physical safety of your student if they share this information.


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Telegram Messenger Parent Guide

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