Clubhouse: Drop-in Audio Chat

App review by
Christine Elgersma, Common Sense Media
Clubhouse: Drop-in Audio Chat App Poster Image
Unique, voice-only group chats diverse, informative, mature.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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Did we miss something on diversity?

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

There are lots of educational clubs to join about all sorts of topics, but the app isn't designed to be learning-focused.

Ease of Play

It's easy to get started, though some of the etiquette and lingo might mean reading the on-boarding materials. 

Violence

Users could discuss violence while in a room.

Sex

There are rooms that focus on sex and users discuss topics using sexually explicit language.

Language

All kinds of swearing: f--k, s--t, motherf---er, c--k, and more.

Consumerism

Some users and clubs promote themselves and their businesses.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Room names and discussions of drinking and using drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat is a voice-only chat-based app. At the time of review, new users need to receive an invite from a current user or join a waitlist. There are quite a few celebrities using the app, which will likely draw younger users, and there are sometimes big names like Elon Musk who attract lots of listeners. Users can drop in and out of "rooms" that are usually focused on a particular topic without drawing attention to themselves. There are moderators who can mute and remove people from a group. However, because the app is intended for adults, the conversations are often very mature, including sexually explicit language, all manner of swearing, and discussion of substance use. Profile pictures also sometimes feature scantily clad people. The adult-focused content can also be also tame, like the rooms about networking or growing a business. Users can start rooms and lock them so random users can't drop in.

The terms of service state that users should be 18 or older to use the app. While the ability to join a private room and some of the topics could be a supportive or informative outlet for younger teens, their use of the app would require lots of parental involvement. Also, there are many rooms and clubs moderated by people of color and people in the LGBTQ+ community, which provide a space that many social media platforms lack. Many users include their Twitter and Instagram handles in their profiles, which they use to send direct messages since that functionality doesn't exist in the app at the time of review. Though you can refuse, the app requests access to your contacts. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMaryamamini March 13, 2021
Adult Written byIfraah March 7, 2021

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What's it about?

CLUBHOUSE: DROP-IN AUDIO CHAT features spontaneous and scheduled voice-only conversations that center around specific topics. At the time of review, you need an invite or to joint the waitlist. Once you're admitted, you only need a phone number to sign up. In theory, everyone is using their real names, though there's no verification. To get started, you choose from a huge variety of topics you're interested in divided into categories like Knowledge, Wellness, and Hanging Out. Within those categories, you'll see topics like Veganism, Islam, Psychology, and Bring a Drink. If you allow access to your contacts, you'll get a list of friends to follow. Otherwise, you need to add people manually. And if you want to give your invitations to friends so they can join, you need to allow access to contacts.

There's a new user guide that explains the basic functionality and etiquette. You'll see rooms you can join, which have moderators, speakers, and listeners. Moderators can mute and remove people from the room. When you enter a room, you're automatically muted. If you want to speak, you can virtually raise your hand, or the moderator can invite you to be a speaker. You can also start your own group which can be open to anyone or locked. You'll see rooms you can join immediately that are already active, or your can tap Explore and look at the people and clubs you might want to follow. Clubs also schedule conversations for certain times, and you can get notifications so you know when you want to tune in. It's easy to drop in and out of rooms unnoticed.

Is it any good?

This unique social experience does a great job of giving all people a voice, but there's still room to grow -- and it's definitely not for kids. Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat is a truly fresh take on social media. Without a feed to scroll or images to share, it's based purely on conversation. And a lot of that conversation is about big ideas, coming together, and supporting each other. For teens of color, in the LGBTQ+ community, or teens who can't find their people where they live, an app like this could be an amazing find. With groups like "Therapy for Black Girls," "Powerful Black Women," "BIPOC Queer Folx," and "Amigos - Latinos/Latinas Unit, Network, Fun," there are opportunities for community that are harder to find on other social media platforms. The lack of image-sharing puts the focus on conversation, and hearing someone's voice is refreshing as anonymous internet comments are frequently cruel and cold.

On the flip side, it's important for parents to know that this isn't an app for young teens. There's a ton of sexy stuff, swearing, and discussion of substance use alongside the knowledge and community-building, and it's all just a click away. And, like every other social media platform, the stance of "we're different and lack toxicity" evaporated pretty quickly, as hate speech has sometimes infiltrated this app like all the others. In terms of functionality, it has room to improve. Even with muting and etiquette, some rooms have people talking over each other so that it's too hard to listen. Self-promotion is definitely a focus for some. And sexy profile pictures of people in their underwear just seem out of sync with the app itself. Of course, it would also be easy for hate-focused groups to create rooms that teens could drop into, so open conversations come with risks. But for older teens who have proven they can be safe and responsible online, there may be informative, supportive groups and people on Clubhouse that are harder to find elsewhere, and connecting through voice removes some common social media pressures.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to use Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat safely. Since the app is based on discussions with strangers, what can you do with unwanted requests or attention? What functionality in the app can give you control over your experience?

  • Discuss the access to mature topics. Is it okay to join those rooms or clubs? If a conversation strays into uncomfortable territory, it's easy to leave!

  • Talk about all of the available topics and clubs to explore. Is there representation in this app that you haven't found in other apps? What's it like to just talk to a group of people without seeing them?

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