What is Signal?
Description: The Signal app is a free and instant communication tool. Users can text and send pictures, videos, voice messages, and files. Video and voice calls can also be made to anywhere in the world for free. It boasts about keeping conversations secure through end-to-end encryption and that privacy isn’t an optional mode.
They also advertise that there are no ads, affiliate marketers, or tracking. Signal is an independent nonprofit and is supported by grants and donations.
Corporate website: https://signal.org/en/
Category: Social Networking
APP Store rating:
What do parents need to know about Signal?
Here’s a list of items we try to evaluate with each app we review.
Does Signal have easily accessible inappropriate content?
No. It’s “just” a messaging app and no searchable, permanent content, other than what is sent user-to-user, which can be voice messages, photos, videos, GIFs and files. You can also make clear phone calls to individuals you’re connected to.
BUT because messages can be set to disappear just like Snapchat (read more below), nudes can easily be sent, just like they do in Snapchat. That’s always a risk when there is disappearing content.
Does Signal have “ephemeral” or disappearing content?
Yes. Disappearing messages with times ranging from 5 seconds to 1 week can be enabled. Any user can change this setting. Also any user can delete any message or image. Any pictures or video that is taken through the app does not get saved to the phone. It will only remain in that message until it is deleted or disappears if disappearing messages was enabled. This type of privacy and control over user-generated content is very important to the app’s creators.
Do Signal’s features facilitate predatory activity?
Not the app by itself. But we anticipate that Signal will become (if not already) a destination for predators. Apps like Instagram are searchable for young people. Predators then invite young people into more private apps like Signal and Snapchat. This is what happens between Instagram and Snapchat right now. Instagram and TikTok are “trailheads” but apps like Snapchat and Signal are the encrypted and private destinations.
Does Signal share your location?
No, not by default. But there is an option to send another user your location.
Does Signal have direct messaging?
Yes. This is the entire premise of the app. And it’s guarded with end-to-end encryption, which is it’s big selling point. PRIVACY. You can message directly with individuals or in a group chat, as shown in the images above.
Does Signal have ads and in-app purchases?
No and Signal is proud of this. They’ve stripped the app down to basics. No ads. No tracking.
Does Signal make it easy to report bad content?
Yes. Right in the settings. Very easy.
Does Signal verify users when creating accounts?
A phone number is required to sign up for a Signal account. A verification text message is required to complete set-up. The same phone number cannot be used to create multiple Signal accounts. This is good.
Do Signal’s features facilitate bullying?
Possibly. But only if they have your phone number and you have invited them to connect with you. Like any social networking app, it’s all who you decide to connect with. In August 2020, Signal added features that help a user decide if they will accept a message from another user who is not in their contacts. Users can preview a message, video, or voice call before accepting, blocking, or deleting.
How does Signal guard privacy?
Anything else to know about Signal?
There is also a desktop and iPad version that you can link to your mobile device (the mobile device must be set up first).
The bottom line – is Signal safe for your kids?
This is the future of all messaging – end-to-end encryption. It’s great for privacy, but it means that law enforcement has very little insight into what happens inside of the app. Disappearing messages are always concerning. Like Instagram and Snapchat, this app falls into the at least 15+ category, only used by teens who truly understand the impact of sharing potentially life-changing content.
- Talk to your kids about your expectations about what types of apps are allowable.
- If you want to allow kids to pick apps but with permission – Set up Family Sharing (iPhone) or Family Link (Android).
- If you want to prevent access to app stores altogether – Turn off the App Store in Screen Time (iPhone) or use an App Lock (Android).
Now what? Have you heard of Bark?
Are you interested in having greater insight into the social media platforms that your kids are using? Bark is one of the best platforms we’ve tested. If your kid is using social media, then they need Bark. We trust them and we think you should, too!
*There may be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!
I love life. Seriously! Each. Day. A. Gift. Former CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director. Manage marketing efforts for Covenant Eyes and CEO of PYE. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I have a relentless drive to help families use technology well.