If you’re a parent with a child or children eager to get on the Internet and start chatting with friends, it’s perfectly normal to be skeptical. Parental controls are still fairly limited on mobile devices plus the very uncensored nature of text messages can sometimes make it a dangerous means of communication for kids.
Disney recently came out with a new app called Disney Mix that appears to try and tackle this issue. Mix is basically its own messaging service that you can sign your child up for to message friends and family also on the service. The app has built in games that your child can play with friends, fun avatars and emoticons, and most importantly several integrated tools for safety and filtering.
Bullying and harassment is grounds for a ban as is foul language, racism or graphic/sexual content.
Should your kids actually be using an app like Disney Mix as opposed to iMessage? I went in depth with the app to answer that question.
The Safe Side of Disney Mix
Disney Mix right off the bat is much safer for kids than iMessage or any other messaging services for a number of reasons. Mix has built in rules that users must abide by and if they don’t, they can be temporarily or permanently banned from the app. This seems to suggest that chats are monitored.
The first rule is that no one can request or exchange personal information like real name, phone number, address, or even school name and photos with people they don’t know. It’s unclear how they actually enforce this, but it’s there in writing.
Additionally, bullying and harassment is grounds for a ban as is foul language, racism or graphic/sexual content. When I tried to send a swear word, the app replaced it with a few dashes to filter it out.
Kids can add their friends by searching for the username, scanning a code (much like Snapchat) or importing friends from other Disney services like Disney Music and Disney Channel. Mixbot is the first friend by default and provides a tutorial at the start plus additional help as needed.
The Fun Side of Disney Mix
Everything from Finding Dory to Inside Out to Frozen to Mickey Mouse is here.
Disney Mix is arguably the most kid-friendly messaging app I’ve used. Children get to create their own blocky avatar and customize every aspect from hair to skin tone to eyebrows. They can also dress them up in costumes and save these presets to switch between up to six outfits and looks.
In the messenger, kids get to send fun stickers and oversized effects or emoticons to each other, usually Disney themed. Everything from Finding Dory to Inside Out to Frozen to Mickey Mouse is here.
Notably what they can’t send to each other quite yet is photos or videos, though Disney says that’s coming soon. The limitation is likely due to the security concerns that come with being able to do so.
The Downside of Disney Mix
The downside of Disney Mix is the same issue that just about every other social app faces when first starting out. Other users need to join the app for it to be any fun or even useful. I’ll discount my own experience having no friends on the app because I’m a grown adult, but I have a feeling that’s the case for kids right now too. They need to recruit their friends and explain why Disney Mix is so much better.
If you can get your kids on board and sign up enough friends to make it interesting for them, definitely go for it.
Fortunately, that’s pretty easy since it’s jam packed with kid-friendly stickers, game challenges and animations. Parents should also try to sell other parents on the app so they encourage children to make the switch.
Disney Mix is an all around safer and more fun environment for kids, I’d say probably up to age 13, than iMessage is. If you can get your kids on board and sign up enough friends to make it interesting for them, definitely go for it.