Parents' Guide to


By Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Privacy, safety, validity concerns in video/chat support.

Huddle. Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this app.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

WARNING: suicidal or depressed children or adults should not use this app without the supervision of a parent or mental health professional

I am currently in a surreal conversation about safety with a Huddle Customer Service representative whom I suspect is a bot and not a human being. My issue is that within hours of joining this site for personal use, I found myself in a nasty comment row about how not to interact with a person who is currently suicidal. There was no automatic response from Huddle at the time or since. I had to figure out how to contact customer service with no clues how to even find them, thanks to the app's streamlined appearance that includes almost no menu. Once I did figure out how to contact customer support, after exhausting a way to read a FAQ or report a concern or safety issue, I sent a message about being alarmed that those in imminent danger had no way to seek out help on the website. No suggestions or links to direct anyone suicidal or in danger. No evidence that despite advertising, this was or wasn't an app designed to be used as a health tool. No indication there were any health professionals involved in any part of the site at all. Then the responses finally started hours later. I was informed that my safety concerns fell under their safety policy of Zero Tolerance for Bullying. The discussion just got worse and worse. No, a suicidal teen is not a bully or being bullied. No, pointing out that "normal users" were not equipped to help the suicidal was not a good choice of phrase. No, I don't feel safe knowing I can report... myself (???) if I am suicidal right now. No, there were no safeguards in place to distance the vulnerable from the unmoderated masses. The only mention of my insistence that mental health professionals needed to be involved somehow in the design or function of the app was to thank me for my concern. I was assured that if a user was suicidal, Huddle would provide contact information to the user for trained support specialists not part of Huddle. With no indication of how this information could possibly be provided if a suicidal person did not use the system to flag someone's content as "inappropriate". Oh yes, there was no irony noted or apology given for implying that someone seeking help for active suicidal thoughts was committing inappropriate behavior, no matter the different ways I tried to point this out. I have felt lost, confused, bewildered, offended, marginalized, suicidal, and enraged over the course of our conversation these past 3-4 days. Yes, I am still in the middle of conversing with this "person", and have yet to be given any information about contacting a trained medical professional to help me not commit suicide. Did I mention that the originally argument that prompted this was when I tried to inform a self-identified teenage minor child that yelling at a suicidal person was not a good way to help them?

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

An app-based support group community sounds like a great idea -- and it may be -- but big potential risks exist, too. From "Child of Foster Parents" to "Cheerleaders," and "IB Is Hell" to "Having an LGBTQ Sibling," there's a support group for a nearly inexhaustible breadth of issues on "Huddle." Users can create their own support groups (some of which are very specific and rather obscure) or they can join more typical, general groups. On the downside, there's no warning for teens that this isn't a substitute for professional help, and there aren't apparent connections to reliable professional support resources. Also, adults can be conversing with teens about very sensitive topics. Blurring video images is completely voluntary, and there's no ability to change your voice. That said, users can report any questionable content posted by other users, and moderators will remove it. Another concern is privacy: Personal info (phone number or Facebook account info) is required to register, and the privacy policy states that there are cases in which personal information could be shared with "affiliated businesses." For older teens who have an in-person support network, professional help available, and understanding of how to use this type of app safely and responsibly, it could offer some additional buoying during tough times. Certainly, being able to share problems with a group of people who understand can be deeply helpful. However, the majority of teens who are struggling -- especially younger teens -- would need parental supervision to use this app safely and effectively as they're already vulnerable, would be talking to strangers, and would be sharing extremely personal information.

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