A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
HOUSEPARTY - GROUP VIDEO CHAT users can communicate with each other through live video in groups of two to eight people. Simply log onto the app and you'll instantly be connected with any friends who are using it at the same time. With one click you can join them or, if they're already in a chat, you can join that conversation as well. If you want a more private chat, you can "lock" the room so others can't join. When a person who is not your direct friend enters the chat, an alert is shown, giving you the chance to exit the conversation if you'd like -- or meet someone new. Users can share photos via the app, and a messenger feature lets them share their profile with others, allowing them to make new friends. Push notifications are sent to friends when you open the app. It's also possible for users to take screenshots while in a group chat and share them to social media.
Is it any good?
If teens only use this app with friends, there's little risk (beyond a time-suck), but inviting friends of friends and being able to share screenshots makes it potentially risky. Houseparty - Group Video Chat is like a party line from the olden days of rotary phones. It allows an easily accessible live conversation between friends with a friendly interface. While there are no ways to moderate the conversations, the alert that a stranger is entering the room is a notable safety feature for younger kids since they can exit a conversation if someone they don't know -- or don't like -- joins. So, though it does have some cool features that limit a teen's contact with strangers, parents may want to go over the features and make sure teens know that screenshots are possible, even in locked groups. When used only with friends, the biggest risk is spending too much time in the app. But it's easy to use with people you don't know if your friend invites someone. Even though teens get a notification that someone they don't know is joining, it doesn't mean they'll leave the conversation -- and then you don't know who they're talking to. The features can also be twisted, so that teens can target each other, lock each other out of groups, or take embarrassing screenshots to share on social media. Though not a completely Wild West like some other video chat apps, it's still best to monitor your teen's use.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what's appropriate to discuss on social media and in public. When participating in a chat in Houseparty - Group Video Chat, what are some ground rules for behavior?
Talk about using video chat with people you know vs. those you don't know very well. Since friends of friends can hop on a video chat, it's important to talk about the "lock the room" feature and topics you might share with good friends vs. acquaintances.
For kids who love social networking and safe chatting
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