Comscore is out this week with their latest (September 2014) stats on rankings of mobile apps. Your answer to the question in the title of this post doesn’t matter. It matters that you do understand a couple of things, including the fact that in all likelihood your teen is using a messaging app, not the SMS messaging on his phone. Why is that important?
- If you suspect there is something bad going on, and check the text messages on your teen’s phone, they’ll likely be in-app, not in the regular SMS function
- Messaging apps sometimes/usually/always have a separate password, making it harder for you to check, even if you know the lock screen password
Of the top 15 mobile apps for the month of September, Facebook Messenger is the only messaging app ranked. This is pretty disappointing, since many folks, us included, have commented on how its privacy policies are less than perfect. It’s also pretty amazing, given the huge number of messaging app users (listed below). Anyway, which are the top messaging apps, and which are your teens likely to be using?
Top messaging Apps – millions of U.S. users (Sept. ’14, Comscore)
- Facebook Messenger – 66.9 million
- Skype – 17.9 million
- Kik – 16.6 million
- WhatsApp – 7.3 million
- Line – 4.4 million
- Viber – 3.8 million
It’s strange that Skype, a video calling app, is included in the list but not a picture messaging app like Snapchat, which is on fire these days.
Teens, tweens and millennials tend to use messaging apps because of the cool factor and to avoid text message charges (apps use wifi when available) but also because of the myriad features that come included free of charge, including group messages, free wifi calling, emojis, location data, availability status, picture and video messaging and the list goes on and on. Put another way, messaging apps allow teens to communicate with a lot of the features that they thing are cool, but parents would find exhausting.
In terms of which one your teen is using – the answer is whichever one his friends are using. It’s a group thing, after all.
Looking to start a conversation with your teen about what he is really doing on his phone? Ask him which messaging apps he uses and why. He might be surprised that you even know that messaging apps are a thing.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.