Telegram is the 6th most popular messaging app with 550 million users according to Statista . Telegram’s popularity has been increasing since 2021, with more and more people switching to Telegram from dominant and popular messaging apps. „Is Telegram safe for children?“ however, is a question parents keep asking us. While Telegram prides itself on its comprehensive safety features that make millions of adults worldwide choose it as their preferred messaging app, it poses critical safety risks for children. Hence, in this article, we will explore Telegram’s safety and health risks for children discuss and offer solutions to make it safe.
How does Telegram pose a risk to children’s safety and health?
Telegram has features that most adults will find handy, such as: E.g. public usernames, end-to-end encryption and disappearing messages. However, these features can put young Telegram users at risk. On the other hand, since most Telegram users are adults, most content shared on Telegram is aimed at adult users. In addition, children’s screen time on Telegram is another problem that can cause health risks for children.
Below we will discuss in detail each area where Telegram can pose risks.
Based on Telegram’s policy, public sharing of pornography is prohibited. However, this does not apply to private groups and chats. Additionally, Telegram isn’t very quick at detecting inappropriate content on public channels.
Pornography isn’t the only inappropriate content kids may be exposed to on Telegram. You always run the risk of encountering violent, propaganda, and disturbing content that is unsuitable for children.
If you don’t adjust Telegram’s privacy settings, anyone can add your child to groups. All members can share content in groups and access other members‘ usernames and profile pictures. You can also message each other in private chats. Put simply, your child is exposed to people they may not know personally in Telegram groups.
On Telegram, every user can choose a unique username. Anyone can look up usernames in a search box provided by Telegram. There is no way to hide your username from search results.
Release of phone numbers
To join Telegram, your child must enter a phone number. By default, everyone can see this number on your child’s profile. People can also look up your child using your child’s phone number. However, you can disable this feature in the privacy settings.
Disappearing messages is a feature Telegram inherited from Snapchat. With this feature, your child can set messages to disappear after a predefined time. Messages disappearing can be a critical security issue because you can’t check the messages your child is exchanging.
Sex offenders and traffickers of illegal products use disappearing messages to target children. Since you have no proof of their messages, they can get away with it.
End-to-end encrypted messages are designed to ensure user privacy on Telegram. No one but sender and recipient can access messages with this feature. However, this poses a problem for parents because they cannot access their children’s messages. This feature also prevents parental control apps from monitoring and controlling children’s messages.
Most kids seem to have trouble controlling their screen time on messaging apps. They tend to spend hours chatting with their friends. Sometimes these apps can cause kids to stay up after bedtime, leading to sleep deprivation and fatigue. Telegram is no different.
How to make Telegram safe for kids?
The first thing to keep in mind to protect children from Telegram risks is to discuss the risks with your child. Advising children not to reply to messages from strangers and to report inappropriate or suspicious messages to them is the best policy. In addition, Telegram offers privacy settings that you can use to make Telegram safer for your child. To protect your child from excessive screen time and prevent them from using Telegram when they are underage, you can use the Safes parental control app . In the following sections we will explain all the options you have in detail.
Telegram privacy settings
You can use privacy settings in your child’s Telegram account to protect your child from unwanted interactions and inappropriate content. However, you should not consider these settings as parental controls as your child can change them at any time.
To access privacy settings, open Telegram on your child’s phone and tap the three parallel lines icon in the top left corner of the screen, then tap „Settings“. Scroll down and tap on „Privacy and Security“. Here you have the following sections.
Here you have all the accounts that your child has blocked. If you want to block more people, tap the plus icon in the top right corner of the screen and select the contacts you want to block.
Last Seen & Online
In this section you can decide who can see your child’s status update. If you select Everyone, everyone on Telegram will know if your child is online or when they were last online. To protect your child’s privacy, we recommend selecting „Nobody“. To see your child’s status (if you’re also using Telegram), tap „Always share with“ and select yourself and/or your spouse.
Profile photos can say a lot about a person. This is how a predator can understand that a Telegram user is a child. Therefore, we recommend limiting the display to „My Contacts“ or „Nobody“. If you select „Nobody,“ you can add exceptions and allow selected people to view your child’s profile picture.
By default, Telegram displays users‘ phone numbers. However, it is not necessary for others to see your child’s number on Telegram. To protect your child’s safety and privacy, we recommend that you select „Nobody“ in this section.
Search by phone number
This feature allows Telegram users to look up your child using their phone number. As this is not a suitable feature for a child, we recommend selecting My Contacts so that only people in your child’s contact list can access your child via their phone number.
By default, when someone forwards a message you sent on Telegram, your name and link to your profile will be displayed. This function is used to protect copyrights. However, it poses a safety risk for your child if someone shares your child’s messages with a stranger. Therefore, we recommend that you select „Nobody“ in this section so that your child’s forwarded messages are not linked to your child’s profile.
group and channels
In this section you can decide who can add your child to groups and channels. We recommend that you select „My Contacts“. If there are people who don’t want to add your child to groups or channels, tap on „Never allow“ and select them.
In the Voice Calls section, you can choose who can call your child on Telegram. We recommend selecting „Nobody“ and then tapping „Always allow“ to make exceptions. You must only allow family members and close friends to call your child for maximum safety.
Safes child lock
Telegram is restricted to 16 years and older according to its Terms of Service. However, Telegram does not verify the age of users. That means younger kids can easily join Telegram. Still, you can use Safe’s parental control suite to stop your child from using Telegram. Safes also let you control how much time your teen spends on Telegram.
Below are the three key features of safes that can protect your child.
If your child is underage or you don’t want them to use Telegram due to the security risks discussed earlier, you can block the Telegram app on all phones, tablets and computers. There is no way for your child to open Telegram.
As you may know, Telegram is also available on browsers without the need to install it. Safes web filter allows you to block Telegram web panel.
Screen Time Tools
With safes you can:
- Monitor the time your child spends on Telegram
- Get daily, weekly and monthly reports on your kid’s screen time
- Limit the time your child can spend on Telegram
- Create a screen schedule for each day of the week
- Create screen time profiles for special days and events like ceremonies and holidays
- Block your child’s device if they use Telegram excessively
- Set a bedtime when your child’s phone stops working, except for urgent phone calls and sending text messages
Is Telegram safe for children? -Summary
Some of the handy tools Telegram offers can pose safety risks for children. As a parent, you can help your child avoid many of these risks by changing their account privacy settings. However, you cannot stop your child from changing the settings afterwards. If you find Telegram poses a safety and health risk to your child, you can block them or limit your child’s screen time with Safes Parental Controls.
Frequently asked questions about Telegram
Is Telegram safe for children?
Telegram limits its service to children under the age of 16. For safety risks like inappropriate content and dangerous strangers, experts advise younger children not to use Telegram.
How do I restrict content on Telegram?
You have no control over what people share on their channels or in groups and private chats. However, you can restrict invitations to groups and channels in your account privacy settings.
Is Telegram safe for a teenager?
Due to the risks of encountering inappropriate content and dangerous strangers, and some of its private tools, such as B. Disappearing messages, using Telegram is not recommended for teenagers under 16 years old. Telegram itself limits its services to people over the age of 16.