Description: The concept behind Jott is genius, allowing teens to communicate with each other without a cell signal or Wi-Fi, using a Bluetooth low-energy or a router that’s within 100 feet to create something called a “mesh network” on smart devices. No phone number is required to find friends – kids just join a “school network” and begin chatting with friends.
Category: Social Media
What parents need to know:
Created with Teens in Mind – Jott is used primarily by teens, who compromise almost 100% of its users, and it’s not hard to see why. According to a CNN article, “The app’s creators, Juxta Labs, interviewed 350 junior high and high school students and found that teens send 50% of their text messages during school hours – but many are getting left out of the conversation because they don’t have cell phones.” Jott connects friends from school, work, and Instagram.
Privacy Taken Seriously – In terms of privacy, the app requires users to provide their real names, birth dates, phone numbers or emails and location to gain access to a school network, which is unlike YikYak, a similar messaging app which allows anonymous usage. Jott uses social media must-haves that kids love, including stickers, screenshot detection (of conversations), the ability to send photos, and it even borrows functionality similar to Snapchat, by allowing kids to select a “timer” (destruct) option after photos or chats are viewed.
Jott for the Apocalypse? Interestingly, the apps founders foresee potential use during a natural disaster if cell towers were disabled. According to Jared Allgood, the CEO, and co-founder, “You could be on top of Mount Everest or on an airplane completely disconnected and yet still be able to send text messages [to other Jott users]”.
Always Distracted – For parents, other than the concern that kids are distracted at school by being in constant digital conversations, there aren’t many risks since the app limits their connections to kids within a certain local network and kids have control over who they are chatting with. It’s easy to block and report bad behavior. A potential risk might be the teen who has added hundreds of unknown followers on Instagram, and Jott would use this follower-base as a contact list that is somewhat “trusted.”
No Parental Controls – Jott isn’t blocked by anything because it doesn’t rely on an internet connection or even Wi-Fi. There are no monitoring reports for the conversations that occur within Jott.
Due to COPPA, I discourage middle school usage, but from a practical perspective, I know that many parents are going to allow it. The app was created specifically with middle school students in mind. Compared to other messaging and social media apps, the privacy and exposure risks are low.