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Messenger – a good alternative to WhatsApp?

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
Foto: flickr.com/Christoph Scholz

Formerly known as Facebook Messenger the app from Meta (previously Facebook ) is now only called Messenger . It is connected to one’s Facebook account and works like other messenger services.

In brief

  • free messenger app for Android and iOS
  • also for PC/laptop via browser in Facebook usable and as Windows app
  • Use via the personal Facebook account (with one exception )
  • Age rating according to AGB from 16 years (from 13 years with parental permission)
  • Risks: Disclosure of personal data, risk of various communication risks.

What can the Messenger do?

With your own Facebook account, Messenger can only be used after installing the Messenger app (and not via the Facebook app). Sending messages, voice messages, and photos and videos are possible in individual and group chats. As with WhatsApp can be used to send self-deleting messages that are end-to-end encrypted . Group chats and video calls are protected from third-party access. In addition, via the Messenger Playing online games with friends or Story be shared. Thus, Facebook functions are combined with a chat.

What fascinates children and young people about it?

As fewer and fewer young people have a Facebook account, they also use Messenger less frequently than WhatsApp . For Facebook users, Messenger is convenient because they can use one account to reach many other people on Facebook reach Not even the cell phone number of the persons is needed for this. Contact with new or not so close acquaintances can then be made via Facebook can be produced easily.

What can be problematic about the offer?

Theoretically, any person with a Facebook profile can be contacted by all other users. Therefore, there is a risk of being written to and possibly harassed by strangers.

The Messenger requires many access rights to one’s own phone, e.g. to contacts, other apps, the microphone or the camera. Meta has been criticized for processing a particularly large amount of user data and passing it on to companies that use it, for example, for Advertising use This also applies to WhatsApp and Instagram which also belong to Meta belong.

What does the provider think?

There are some presets that are supposed to provide more security. For example, requests from friends end up in the inbox, while messages from strangers are initially filed under “Message requests”. These messages can be accepted or rejected. In addition, the app filters possible Spam messages out. In the privacy settings, you can restrict the visibility of your own profile and the content you share.

Facebook has a extensive help section with special pages for parents , Teenagers and pedagogical specialists have been set up. There you will also find, among other things, further information and support in dealing with unsolicited messages in the Messenger .

What should parents pay attention to?

For younger children under 13, the Messenger for privacy reasons, even though it is available in the App Store and Google Play Store is characterized for a younger age. If your child is between 13 and 16 years old, he or she can use the Messenger if you have consented as a parent.

Remember that social contacts become more and more important for your child with puberty and that digital communication The same applies to conversations in the playground or on the way to school. You should decide together from when it can use the app. Talk about risks such as Cybergrooming and cyberbullying and support your child in Dealing with social networks . Educate your child on what they can do if they feel uncomfortable or harassed in chat and always be approachable. Never should your child send pictures or share personal information with a stranger. If your child has an unpleasant experience, show understanding. Think together about what you can do about it. Also use the Privacy settings From Facebook .

Basically, you should make your child aware: On the servers of Facebook and Meta everything it sends is stored. People who work at Facebook work, have access to the messages, for example to check reported messages. As a result, the messages are never completely private. You can also send encrypted messages to Facebook exchange information: Here you can learn how to start a secret conversation.

Also, consider using alternative messengers, such as the following. collect less data – for example, we provide you with Signal or Threema before.

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