Ask The Techspert: All About Group Chats – Senior Planet from AARP

Ask The Techspert: All About Group Chats – Senior Planet from AARP

Chatting (sending messages) is one of the most fun and personal communication methods. To put it into perspective, according to Forbes, people send around 23 billion messages daily. With the growing implementation of end-to-end encryption in most messaging apps, chatting is becoming one of the most private ways we communicate.

A group chat is about receiving and sending messages to multiple people simultaneously and in the same chat. If you are planning a surprise birthday party, road trip, event, or anything that requires the involvement of many people, having a group chat for the project is one of the most efficient and time-saving ways to keep everyone informed of the progress. Group chats are for more than just events and projects, though. You can also create group chats for families, friends, walk buddies, communities, and more.

How do I start a group chat?

Starting a group chat is similar for iOS, Android, and most message apps. It is as follows:

  • Open the Messages app.
  • Start a brand new conversation.
  • Rather than entering only one contact as the receiver, use the plus icon to add more contacts or type in their phone numbers, each followed by the return key. 
  • Then, type and send your message, and voila!

To read all about group messaging on iPhone, visit this page on the Apple website. For Android, visit this Google page.

Data and fees may apply for international messages when using the default Messages app. If you want people with international phone numbers in the group, you should use one of the many chat apps available on the App Store and Google Play. These apps send messages over the internet and cost nothing.

How to customize group chats?

Some apps require you to be a group administrator or creator to edit the name and picture of the group. However, the process is simple:

  • Open the group conversation 
  • Tap on its icon or the 3-dots in the top left to get to its settings
  • You should see the option to edit the photo and name of the group chat.

Want to learn more about Messaging Apps? Senior Planet offers an online lecture on the topic monthly. Stay up to date with our class offerings here

How to leave group chats?

At any given moment, you have all the power to leave or block a group chat. If you no longer wish to be part of a group chat and want to stop receiving messages from it, do the following:

  • Open the group chat 
  • Tap on its icon or the 3-dots in the top left to get to its settings
  • You should see the option to leave or block the group chat.

If you only wish to stop receiving notifications from the group, then the best option is to silence, mute, or hide alerts of that group chat. That option should also be available in the group chat settings. Once you mute a group chat, you will still be part of it, but your phone will not notify you of new messages from that chat. You will have to remind you to check for the latest updates in the group.

If you created the group, you also have the power to remove anybody from the group chat at any moment. Once removed, they will no longer be able to see any new messages from the group.

Which app should I use?

 When choosing a group chat app, what matters most is whether or not all group members use it. Using the built-in messages app might be the best option if all the group members are in the same country. Otherwise, you should pick one you know all the group members already utilize or are at least familiar with.

The most popular instant messaging app is WhatsApp. It is free, without ads, and has over 2.4 billion monthly users. Everybody you know likely uses or is familiar with this app. It has a remarkable end-to-end encryption (E2EE), meaning that only the sender and receiver of the message can see its content. Even the app’s creators cannot access the content of those messages. Thanks to its simplicity and intuitive interface, WhatsApp is also one of the best apps for group messaging. 

Other popular instant messaging apps are Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, Telegram, Snapchat and Signal

If you still need help deciding which app to use, this PCMag article detailing the best and most secure messaging apps in 2024 may be helpful.

Got a tech question that just cannot wait? Ask them directly to Senior Planet Technology Trainers and Verizon Experts by joining the Senior Planet Community group, Ask a Tech Expert , or call our free Senior Planet Tech Hotline at 888-713-3495.

Your Turn

What group chat do you use? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments!

The government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is no longer accepting new applications and currently winding down for existing households receiving the benefit. When the ACP ends, so will the internet company’s discounted rate. To learn more, visit here


Techspert Jonathan is Senior Planet’s Sr. Digital Community Relations and Product Specialist and a former Senior Planet San Antonio technology trainer. He is also an iOS developer with a background in Information Systems and Cyber Security.


Have a tech question that’s got you stumped? Send your tech questions to Techspert Jonathan using THIS FORM. He’ll be tackling one question a month from readers.

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