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Thread: Whatsapp - rules on communicating with Scouts

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    Whatsapp - rules on communicating with Scouts

    Our PLs/APLs have set up a whatsapp group so they can discuss programme and games ideas. They would like to add us leaders to the group.

    I can't find anything specific on the yellow card saying that direct contact with Scouts is prohibited but we don't currently do it since we usually communicate information to them through their parents as well as directly during meetings.

    Assuming we add leaders and the Scouts parents to the same group, so that there is openness about what is being said, can anyone see a problem with it that I'm missing?
    Martin (GSL & acting CSL)

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    As you say, I can't see a problem with safeguarding as long as the parents are included in the group.

    The only potential problem I can see is that officially the minimum age for Whatsapp is 13, so you shouldn't add anyone to the group who you know be less than 13. As long as your PLs/APLs are over 12 that isn't a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingstonCubber View Post
    The only potential problem I can see is that officially the minimum age for Whatsapp is 13, so you shouldn't add anyone to the group who you know be less than 13. As long as your PLs/APLs are over 12 that isn't a problem.
    Ah - good point! I hadn't thought of that...
    Our PLs/APLs are all currently under 13 although they all have whatsapp.
    Martin (GSL & acting CSL)

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    GSL & ESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    I would say go for it and I wouldn't include parents in the group although I would make them aware it existed. Just make sure all the Leaders and PLs are in the group and make clear dirrect messaging Leaders outside of the WhatsApp Group is not acceptable. You will have a record of what was said in the Group and several other witnesses with the same record as well so I can't see the problem, its safer than having a chat with them during a meeting really.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
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    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    First of all you have to be aged 13 to use whatsapp so your PLs and APLs shouldn't be using it.

    I am sure that whatsapp, even in a group involves sharing mobile phone numbers with everyone else - this could potentially lead to conversations outside the group.

    In whatsapp groups, the person who created the group is the admin and responsible for adding and removing members (anyone can remove themselves) so if you did use the existing group you'd have no control as a leader over who is and isn't in the group.

    So while they shouldn't have whatsapp I would not let them add leaders - if they want to use it to discuss things between them then that's up to them.
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    Escouts Founder Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I would say go for it and I wouldn't include parents in the group although I would make them aware it existed. Just make sure all the Leaders and PLs are in the group and make clear dirrect messaging Leaders outside of the WhatsApp Group is not acceptable. You will have a record of what was said in the Group and several other witnesses with the same record as well so I can't see the problem, its safer than having a chat with them during a meeting really.
    We should absolutely not be encouraging Scouts to break the terms of service of whatsapp, whether they are already signed up or not. By encouraging it we are legitimising it wrongly.

    Assuming they were 13 years old, I dont see why you would exclude Parents.

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    We should absolutely not be encouraging Scouts to break the terms of service of whatsapp, whether they are already signed up or not. By encouraging it we are legitimising it wrongly.

    Assuming they were 13 years old, I dont see why you would exclude Parents.
    I wouldnt actively EXCLUDE parents. But there is no requirement within the rules to INCLUDE parents... just make sure you've got a couple of adults in the group.

    As others have said, whilst lots of under 13 YP use Whatsapp, officially whatsapp's terms of service do require users to be 13+ (although i cannot really see why). If I had a 10 year old son/daughter then i would include them in a family "whatsapp group" but thats my own private life. If we create a group which we encourage YP who are under 13 to join, and especially if some of those PLs/APLs start using whatsapp because it means they can join the group, then to me that is irresponsible.

    As a leader team, we use a whatsapp group for each camp/event, and add in the leaders attending that camp/event. its used for comms on the event (from patrol points updates, to sharing photos, to reporting that the kettle has boiled if someone is off at the other side of site) - indeed if we have decent data signal on site it largely replaces the use of 2 way radios. At the moment we havent been including YLs in the groups for events, but i'm thinking we should.

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    We should absolutely not be encouraging Scouts to break the terms of service of whatsapp, whether they are already signed up or not.
    I live in the real world if they already have whatsapp what exactly am I encouraging? What difference would me pretending they didn't have whatsapp make? If they don't have whats app I wouldn't suggest they installed it but I would be willing to bet that a survey of our Scouts who have smartphones would reveal 100% of them have whatsapp installed already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Assuming they were 13 years old, I dont see why you would exclude Parents.
    Because the conversations in the group would have nothing to do with the parents. Do I invite the parents into our meeting room and make sure they can hear me before I ask a PL if they can run a game at the start of a Scout meeting? Nope, so why should I do so if having that same sorts of conversation via whatapp? Its just pure parania and I won't pander to it unnecessarily


    As to revealing mobile numbers, umm I already have my mobile number on every email and every letter we send out. How else are they going to contact me apart from via email? In an emergency I would want the Scouts to have my number. I also already add every mobile number i can to my contacts on my phone as i want to be able to communicate with Scouts in an emergency.

    Whatsapp groups are far better than text messaging in terms of having a record of what has been sent as multiple people can see all the messages and will have a record of these.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
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    2017-2018 AGSL
    2002 - 2018 AESL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I live in the real world if they already have whatsapp what exactly am I encouraging? What difference would me pretending they didn't have whatsapp make? If they don't have whats app I wouldn't suggest they installed it but I would be willing to bet that a survey of our Scouts who have smartphones would reveal 100% of them have whatsapp installed already.
    Presumably you also live in the real world where parents routinely ignore age limits on films and games. Can I come to the next Grand Theft Auto tournament at your group

    I know what you mean. Whatsapp is widely used and the age limit is widely ignored. But I still think there are reasons to be cautious about us ignoring it. We are adults in a position of responsibility and if we condone them ignoring age restrictions on one app, we possibly make them more likely to ignore them on others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eskibrew View Post
    Ah - good point! I hadn't thought of that...
    Our PLs/APLs are all currently under 13 although they all have whatsapp.
    There is no age limit to Whatsapp. It is just a messaging platform. That would be like saying under 13s cannot send text messages or emails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith View Post
    First of all you have to be aged 13 to use whatsapp so your PLs and APLs shouldn't be using it.

    I am sure that whatsapp, even in a group involves sharing mobile phone numbers with everyone else - this could potentially lead to conversations outside the group.

    In whatsapp groups, the person who created the group is the admin and responsible for adding and removing members (anyone can remove themselves) so if you did use the existing group you'd have no control as a leader over who is and isn't in the group.

    So while they shouldn't have whatsapp I would not let them add leaders - if they want to use it to discuss things between them then that's up to them.
    This age limit is untrue. There is no signing up process to WA. It is just a messaging service.

    I think you are bing far to OTT.

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    Very Old Member BigBadBaloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikki01 View Post
    There is no age limit to Whatsapp. It is just a messaging platform. That would be like saying under 13s cannot send text messages or emails.
    Not so. " As part of its Terms of Service, WhatsApp's minimum age of use is 13 years old." source: http://parentinfo.org/article/whatsa...nts-and-carers
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadBaloo View Post
    Not so. " As part of its Terms of Service, WhatsApp's minimum age of use is 13 years old." source: http://parentinfo.org/article/whatsa...nts-and-carers
    Well after a little more digging I found it is 16 years. Not 13.

    This is directly from the WA ToS.

    You affirm that you are either more than 16 years of age, or an emancipated minor, or possess legal parental or guardian consent, and are fully able and competent to enter into the terms, conditions, obligations, affirmations, representations, and warranties set forth in these Terms of Service, and to abide by and comply with these Terms of Service. In any case, you affirm that you are at least 16 years old as the WhatsApp Service is not intended for children under 16. If you are under 16 years of age, you are not permitted to use the WhatsApp Service. You further represent and warrant that you are not located in a country that is subject to a U.S. Government embargo, or that has been designated by the U.S. Government as a" terrorist-supporting" country, and that you are not listed on any U.S. Government list of prohibited or restricted parties. WhatsApp is the developer of the Service, with an address at 3561 Homestead Road, #416, Santa Clara, CA 95010-5161, info at whatsapp.com.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rikki01 View Post
    Well after a little more digging I found it is 16 years. Not 13.

    This is directly from the WA ToS.
    Strange.

    This is what I found on the Whatsapp website:

    "Age. You must be at least 13 years old to use our Services (or such greater age required in your country for you to be authorized to use our Services without parental approval). In addition to being of the minimum required age to use our Services under applicable law, if you are not old enough to have authority to agree to our Terms in your country, your parent or guardian must agree to our Terms on your behalf."

    https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#terms-of-service

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingstonCubber View Post
    Strange.

    This is what I found on the Whatsapp website:

    "Age. You must be at least 13 years old to use our Services (or such greater age required in your country for you to be authorized to use our Services without parental approval). In addition to being of the minimum required age to use our Services under applicable law, if you are not old enough to have authority to agree to our Terms in your country, your parent or guardian must agree to our Terms on your behalf."

    https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#terms-of-service
    Backed up by the BBC so must be true

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35524429

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