MXit basics for parents
Scared of the thing that has your child’s full attention for hours a day? We shed some light on how MXit really works.

MXit is a beast that most parents don’t understand. All you ever see is the top of your child’s head as they enter the virtual world and their hungry faces when they finally emerge.

So what are your kids getting up to exactly? MXit has become about more than just chatting with friends. It has turned to a place where you meet new people, play online games and find an identity with wallpapers and emoticons.

Your kid may be sprouting things such as ‘moola’, ‘chatrooms’ or ‘tradepost’. Here’s what it all means.

Getting to know the beast

From the moment your teen signs up with MXit, this is what he will experience:

The Sign Up. Your child needs to enter a cellphone number and pick a password. They also need to pick a nickname. This is where the first attempt at being an individual kicks in. What will your kid be known as? N3eN$? gR0wl3R? Anything is possible… Email address, real name and surname and gender are optional. Your child’s birthday is needed to get into certain chatrooms.

The Home Screen. At first there’s not very much to see. There are a few MXit contacts like Info, Tradepost, Joebanker and Gallery. These are just ways of communicating with MXit itself for different reasons.

Contacts. To add a friend as a contact, all that is needed is the other person’s mobile number. This person will then receive an invite which they can either accept or reject.

The Chatrooms. Now you may be wondering how MXit transforms from a messaging service between friends into the horror stories we hear of strangers stalking kids? These unfortunate events generally stem from the chatrooms. The average MXit user is a lot older than what you may think, according to research by MWeb, which places the average age at about 27.

Chatrooms are places that kids can log into and meet different people. People they have no control over. It’s just a general free for all. Anyone can pose as anything they like. Unfortunately, paedophiles can take advantage of this, especially if your child is one that trusts easily.

The Games. In an attempt to correct the horrible spelling that has come to be known as “MXit language”, the guys from MXit developed games like tiXi. This point of this particular game is to make as many correctly spelt words in a certain time span. Trust me, it’s completely addictive.

The Dating Game. This is a chatroom revolving around a virtual city where you can, according to the MXit website, “find fun, friendship and romance.” You have to be 16 years or older to get into the Dating Game. This is dependent on the birth date entered when signing up. Unfortunately, the birth date is easily changed, which means if your under age teens wants in, it wouldn’t take much.

The Childline Initiative. MXit has teamed up with Childline in an attempt to help kids through difficult times. ‘The Childline chatroom service is fully backed by Childline’s trained counselors who are on hand to offer counseling to users in utmost privacy,’ says the MXit website. ‘The sessions are conducted on a one-on-one basis and will always be confidential.’

MXit is diverse and ever-changing, but that does not have to put up a barrier for parents. MXit encourages parents to get involved and wants their users to be safe.

Still confused? Want to know what your teen means when he states that he needs to buy more ‘moola’? Check out our glossary.

Would you use MXit? Are you involved with the things your child gets up while using MXit?

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