A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
FAM - GROUP VIDEO CALLING FOR IMESSAGE is a group video-chat tool that nests inside the iMessage app on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. When users first install and launch the app, step-by-step instructions walk them through the process of enabling the app within iMessage and starting a new chat. All users have to complete this sequence of steps the first time they use the app. After that, they can tap once on the video icon on-screen to launch a chat within a group message or tap the play button in a message sent by another member of the group chat. Users can also draw and play simple games within the app. To leave the video chat, users can navigate away from the iMessage app, and the video chat will end.
Is it any good?
Once you go through all the steps to set it up -- and once all your friends or family members do the same -- this is an appealing way to bring a large group together for a face-to-face chat. Overall, the video quality is good, and it's extremely easy to tap the chat invitation and connect after you set it up. Also, it's nice that Fam - Group video calling for iMessage lives within an existing app and doesn't have its own social-networking feature, so you're only going to connect with people you already know.
Since this was developed by a third party and not by Apple, some things aren't seamless: On a regular FaceTime call, you can open another app and FaceTime will continue to run in the background. That won't work with this app, which will quit if you leave iMessage. Plus, you won't get a notification if someone taps their screen to go live in your chat, so it's worth getting into the habit of texting a group message to say that you plan to use the app a moment later. Those minor annoyances aside, this is a pretty cool way to connect with your friends and family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about your rules for messaging and social networking in general and with Fam - Group video calling for iMessage. How old do your kids have to be to use social networks? What are your family's rules about devices and when they're appropriate to use?
Talk about online safety. What's OK to share on social media, and what's off-limits? Check out our parent guide for privacy and internet safety here to get advice and good conversation starters to use with your kids.
Our editors recommend
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.