Bitmoji, the future of visual communication – Tips for parents

Have you ever received a text with an emoji that closely resembles the sender’s appearance? If yes, they are likely using the Bitmoji app.

I initially heard about this app from my young daughter – she asked to download the app, saying that all her friends were using it. I set out to learn more and here’s what I uncovered.

About Bitmoji:

  • Bitmoji lets users create a personalized cartoon avatar of themselves that can be shared through Snapchat, iMessage, Facebook and other chat programs that support sharing photos. Most people use Bitmoji as a keyboard option on their smartphone, making it quite easy to send their Bitmojis via text.
  • The app makes it easy to find the perfect expression as emoji’s are divided into categories by emotion, and for ease of use, there is a search option as well. Who needs small, yellow, generic emojis when you can use a Bitmoji that looks just like you for almost any mood or occasion?
  • With Bitmoji, users can have a “visual” conversation without even typing a word. For example when they’ve made a particularly impressive point they can “drop the mic” and get a reaction.
  • There are also stylish avatar outfits which, by the way, can be created using clothing from brands such as Nike, Forever 21 and more – important to note if you don’t want your child being exposed to too much advertising, direct or otherwise.

For my daughter, I ended up approving the app since it didn’t have chat capabilities or connect features, which reduces the risk of connecting with strangers.

Tips for parents:

  • Remind your child that a Bitmoji message is a reflection of their online reputation and brand. How they design their avatar and how they use it to communicate is a representation of themselves, too.
  • Some app stores recommend Bitmoji as being suitable for ages 12+, though Bitmoji service terms suggest that no one under 13 is allowed to create an account, access or use their service.
  • Over time I came to realize that the Bitmoji app infrequently releases emojis that depict mild violence, suggested profanity, crude humor, mature or suggestive themes, and alcohol and tobacco use. Keep this in mind for younger children, and always check back regularly to see how your child’s apps evolve with new updates and what new features they may have access to.
  • Set up “Family Sharing” on your platform app store (i.e. iTunes/Play), and establish approval requirements for your child. When your child requests a new app, you will receive a notification to approve or decline the request. This is a great opportunity to review app details, read reviews, and talk with your child about the app and how they plan to use it.
  • Have an open discussion with your child about using the app – discuss why they enjoy it and how they feel when they use it. Let them know that you are there to talk to them if they come across an emoji that makes them uncomfortable or if they have questions.

When choosing apps for e-learning, games, social media, etc., parents should always consider their child’s maturity and ability to use technology responsibly. With that said, I’ve let my daughter keep the app as long as she remembers to keep an open dialogue with me about her online activity and treat people online the same way she would offline – with respect.

Interested in learning more about parenting in our digital world? Consider booking a TELUS WISE workshop for you and other parents.