imo video calls and chat

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
imo video calls and chat App Poster Image
Video chat/livestreamer is solid but risky.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning.

Ease of Play

Quick registration and setup, mostly intuitive interface.

Violence

No violence within the app; live streaming/user generated content could contain violent images or references.

Sex

No suggestive content within the app; live streaming/user generated content could contain suggestive images or references.

Language

No bad language within the app; live streaming/user generated content could contain profanity.

Consumerism

Premium subscription with increased storage available at $.99 a month; in-app currency available for $.99 to $199.99.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drinking or drug references within the app; live streaming/user generated content could contain images or references to drugs and alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that imo video calls and chat is a freemium video calling app with live streaming video and group chat capabilities. Though basic service is free, users can pay for premium subscriptions (that remove ads and grant users 25GB cloud storage) and buy virtual gifts for other users. The terms of use prohibits users under the age of 13, but there's no method of age verification. Despite the stated age limit, and an onscreen disclaimer stating that pornography and offensive talk is prohibited, users younger than 13 exist within the community, and live streaming can contain inappropriate language, references, and imagery. 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.

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What's it about?

IMO FREE VIDEO CALLS AND CHAT is a video calling app that lets users live stream, as well as conduct single and group chat sessions and video conferences. Users must verify their phone numbers and give the app access to their phone contact lists upon registration. Premium subscriptions go for $.99 per month, and in-app currency (to purchase virtual gifts) is available for $.99 to $199.99. Live streaming is done with the touch of a button, and users can browse streamers, join any ongoing stream, and chat with everyone viewing. They can also follow any streamers and send emojis and virtual gifts to them. In addition to livestreaming functionality, the app lets users send texts and initiate video/voice calls with existing contacts.

Is it any good?

For reliable chat and video calling, this app is a solid choice. Registration and adding contacts is quick, the interface is simple and clean, and video calls both sound and look pretty good. You can go back and forth between a video call and chat (though you can't open your camera in chat when a call is in progress) and track your chat history. It also functions a bit like Facebook or Instagram in that you can create albums and “Stories” made up of text and imagery and share them with friends. Still, as good as this is for adults and older teens, it's not so good for younger kids.

Though the terms of service say the app's meant for users thirteen and over, browsing the livestream feed proves kids younger than that are there. That's not good, since the livestream's onscreen prohibition of pornography seems to have done nothing to prevent suggestive and sexual content, not mention adult-themed conversations not meant for young ears. Even more problematic, when kids livestream, adult users can interact with them in real time--a perfect setup for online predators. Real-time chat can be turned off, but since imo free video calls and chat contains no parental locks to speak of, and its privacy protections are rudimentary, that's just not enough to ensure your kids are safe. Like so much that's made within the social media arena, this app is yet another product offering ease and convenience with a hefty dose of risk. Concerned parents are better off keeping this one for older teens and steering younger kids away from it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the risks and benefits of social media, including apps like imo video calls and chat. What are your family's rules around social media? How do you use it safely?

  • Think about creating and consuming meaningful online content. What kinds of content create the digital footprint you wnat to create?

  • Discuss sharing personal info online. What personal info shouldn't you share online? Why?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (with optional in-app purchases for in-app currency)
  • Subscription price: $.99/mo.
  • Release date: September 26, 2016
  • Category: Social Networking
  • Size: 38.00 MB
  • Publisher: imo.im
  • Version: 7.1.60
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 4.0 and up

For kids who love social networking

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