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HOLLA: live random video chat
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
HOLLA: LIVE RANDOM VIDEO CHAT is a free social networking app that connects strangers via live video chat. It has two modes: Live chat (which automatically connects you to a random person) and Nearby chat, which lets users preview possible chat matches and select among them using a dating app-like “swipe” mechanic before making a connection. Filters let users customize matches by gender and age. The app encourages users to connect their profiles to Instagram, as well as to add multiple photos of themselves and information regarding where they work or go to school. Users get limited access to other users' full profile information unless they pay for a HOLLA Prime subscription ($9.99/mo). Prime users get full profile info, unlimited chats, and the ability to search for chat buddies by geographic location and gender.
Is it any good?
If sex traffickers and online predators described the perfect social media app, this would be it. This app flies in the face of parents' “stranger danger” philosophy, encouraging users to expose their names, faces, age, and location to strangers around the world. The invasion of privacy begins immediately with the app demanding access to your phone number or Facebook account and goes on to throw you – without warning – into Live video chat with a random stranger. While that could be mildly embarrassing and somewhat risky for an adult, it's downright dangerous for kids. In addition to adults making inappropriate connections to kids, app store user reviews report adult males exposing themselves and engaging in sexual activities during video chat.
A hair less risky than Live mode is the app's “Nearby” chat mode, which at least lets you preview chat matches before going live with them. Still, the app's matchmaking function appears to be utterly random. Its so-called filters do nothing and return matches of all ages and genders no matter what how they're set. (Presumably, they're only effective if you pay for Prime membership?) And though the app's Terms state it's meant for users older than thirteen, its app store rating is 17+ and the app contains no method of age verification or parental controls. Without question, HOLLA: Live Random Video Chat is your average parent's nightmare; an app that not only encourages kids to talk to strangers, but exponentially magnifies the number of strangers they encounter -- and insures they're nearby.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the danger of live video chat in apps like HOLLA: live random video chat. What are the risks of engaging in video chat with complete strangers?
Discuss how to recognize an online predator. What should you do if someone approaches you online and asks you for sexy pictures or tries to meet you offline?
Think about how to counteract peer pressure to use adults-only apps. If your friends are using apps like this and want you to participate, what can you say?
For kids who love social networking
Our editors recommend
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.