Safety Tips for Parents and Educators

We respect and understand that parents can find it hard to keep up with new technologies. We want to help you by giving you some tips on textPlus and mobile apps generally, and to understand what you can do to make sure your teen is using textPlus safely. Rest assured that the safety of our users is our top priority.

Here's what you can do as a parent:

textPlus is only for users 13 years or older.

If your child is under the age of 13 and has signed up for textPlus using a false age, please notify us at support@textPlus.com, and we’ll immediately cancel your child's account and delete all of their personal information.

If you have a mobile device that supports textPlus, why not download it yourself and try it? Or ask your teen to show you their device and how textPlus works.

Remember, today's smartphones and connected devices like iPods are actually miniaturized computers that function much like your computer at home, with thousands of applications available for download, often for free. These include games, music services, and tools that let your teen communicate, like textPlus.

So if you're supervising your teen's use of a home computer, you should probably supervise what they use their mobile device for as well. To find textPlus, look for our bright green text+ icon right on the device itself. And remember: alternative messaging applications like textPlus will operate independently from your traditional mobile phone service, so you shouldn't rely on your mobile phone service or billing records as a means to supervise textPlus or any of the other numerous alternative messaging solutions available for download. On the other hand, you do have the option to exercise control over which applications can be downloaded to a device using the parental controls provided by most mobile device platforms, including for the Apple iOS and Android operating systems.

Talk to your teens about their safety and keep open lines of communication about mobile and online communications services at all times.

Talking with your teens about appropriate behavior is just as important in the digital world as it is in the real world. Having an open dialogue is the best way to help your teens make safe choices when using services like textPlus.

You can begin a discussion with your teen about their use of textPlus at any time.

Ask them to show you their textPlus user profile page. Check out their privacy settings (that control how their profile appears to others, and whether their profile is even searchable at all by other users) and help advise on the appropriate settings. Our default settings for most of these controls limit the public display of information about users under 18. Have them take you through what they typically do on textPlus, whether it's sending messages to known friends or meeting new people in communities.

Remind your teen that the rules for the digital world and the real world are very similar. For example, your teen knows to be wary of strangers when they leave the house, and they should do the same for those they meet virtually. The rules you have taught your teen about staying at the mall or walking home from school do translate to the online space, so be sure to have these conversations with your teen.

Please remember that your role is critical when it comes to communicating and enforcing safety guidelines. So start a conversation.

Inappropriate uses of messaging services, including sexting. You may have read press reports of celebrities, politicians and sports stars getting into hot water by inappropriately using messaging services. Much of the time, this involves what is commonly known as sexting, or the sending of electronic messages and pictures of a sexual nature, even to a trusted friend. We know these public cases don't make your job as a parent any easier, and that this topic can be especially difficult. Here's what we think you should know in your role as the supervising parent:

Distributing inappropriate content using textPlus, including pictures containing nudity or of a sexual nature, is a violation of our rules, even if sent privately.

However, just like with email or traditional text messaging, we can't actively monitor the tens of millions of messages and pictures our users send. We do give our users tools to flag inappropriate content and we respond by deleting it and terminating the accounts of abusers.

But remember: pictures and other content distributed electronically (using textPlus or other messaging services) can be easily copied and forwarded to other people, right from the device itself. That's actually how those celebrities and politicians got caught - their “friend” forwarded an embarrassing picture, which ended up with the press.

Plus, various laws make it illegal to distribute child pornography. This can even apply to a teen taking an inappropriate picture of him or herself and sending it to a friend.

So, please sit down with your teen and explain the dangers of using messaging services inappropriately:

Inappropriate pictures and embarrassing messages can be forwarded and re-forwarded, often ending up as a topic of discourse for an entire school or community. It's against our rules and might very well be illegal. So warn them not to ever do it.

Abuse. textPlus is ultimately a digital communications platform. Unfortunately, any system that allows people to communicate can be abused by its users. Telephones can be used to make prank calls. Email can be used to send unsolicited spam. Text messaging is no different.

Sometimes, textPlus users, especially those in public communities, get into interpersonal disputes, no different than they might in their school.

Explain that textPlus has built in features to block users and report abuse.

The block user function is used to cease further communications with another user. Oftentimes, simply ignoring someone is the best way to defuse an interpersonal spat. We encourage our users to utilize this tool when appropriate.

On the other hand, harassment, hate speech, and inappropriate pictures and content all violate our rules and should be reported.

If your teen sees really bad behavior, they should report it to you, the authorities and/or textPlus, as the situation merits.

To report a problem, go to the report abuse tool from within textPlus or send us an email at abuse@textPlus.com.

Public Spaces. textPlus contains public spaces, such as public communities. Members shouldn't post anything they wouldn't want the world to know (e.g., addresses or specific whereabouts).

Tell your teens they should avoid posting anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find them, such as their local hangouts. Remind them not to post anything that could embarrass them in the future or expose them to danger.

Teens sometimes forget that the information and photos they post may be accessible to others.

Exercise Caution. Just as in the real world, people aren't always who they say they are. It's fun to connect with new textPlus friends from all over the world, but members should be cautious when communicating with people they don't know. Encourage teens to be themselves, but to exercise the same basic safety principles they do in the physical world. They wouldn't chat with a stranger at the mall or give someone they don't know their address. Remind them that reckless online behavior can be just as dangerous.

If they want to meet an online friend in person, they should talk to you first and if you think it's safe, any meeting should take place in public, with friends or a trusted adult present.

Please know that parents also have the right to say no. If your child is a minor and you want to cancel their account, please contact us directly at support@textPlus.com.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Email
  • RSS