Jott Messenger: The latest app kids are using

Have you heard of Jott Messenger? I had not until I received an email from Jott Messenger the other day. So naturally I Googled it. Here is what I discovered from Common Sense Media:

JOTT MESSENGER allows kids to send text and photo messages to Instagram connections and friends at school. To create an account, kids have to enter a valid email address or cell phone number and then enter a PIN sent via email or text. Once an account is created, the app asks permission to look at your contacts: If you and a friend both use Jott Messenger, you’ll be able to start sending messages right away. You also can allow the app to use your phone’s GPS to help you find your schools. You can add any school without proof that you attend, but to see more than the basic profiles of other students, you have to ask a peer to verify you really go to that school. There also are lots of rules regarding behavior and easy-to-block-bully features.

The next thing I wondered was how popular is this app with kids. Apparently, it is quickly gaining steam! According to an article by CNN Money, it is described in these words:

A white-hot new app for instant messaging, Jott has nearly 500,000 monthly users and one million app installs after just three months on the market.

As with most apps, there are pros and cons to be considered. Jott seems to be no different. Similar to other messaging apps, it allows messaging without data plans. Therefore, kids without cell phones won’t be left out of the texting conversations. They can participate in one to one chats and group chats. But there are some concerns with Jott:

  • Generally, parents are unaware of Jott’s existence. This allows kids to message freely, even if parents ‘check their texts’, as parents do not realize that Jott is being used.
  • Although there are lots of rules regarding behavior, the content is not monitored. It is up to users to report inappropriate activity.
  • Photos sent via Jott self destruct, similar to Snapchat. This can create a false sense of security among kids leading them to be a bit more daring in what they are willing to send to friends. Additionally, the photo can be captured by other users on their devices and kept permanently as well as shared with others.

Finally, the initial email that I received regarding Jott concerns me. The email was a notification that a young girl that I know was now using Jott.  The email stated the following (names have been changed):

Susie Smith is on Jott and has added you. Jennifer Jones and Katie Johnson have already joined.

Obviously, I know who Susie is, but I am not familiar with Jennifer and Katie. That is a significant concern that the names of other kids using the app are being shared with not just strangers, but adult strangers. I believe that when Susie created an account, she allowed the app to use her Instagram contacts to automatically connect with others. Talk to your kids about this feature and the risks associated with it. Additionally, there was a picture of Susie included in the email that I received. As a parent, I never want my child’s profile picture being sent via email to anyone.

To read a more comprehensive description of Jott, use this link to Common Sense Media.