Social media is still growing and providing new apps specifically designed for video chatting. One of these, being Houseparty which has become another way for young people to stay connected with their friends via video chat. As parents, it’s important to keep a few key aspects in mind if your child uses Houseparty.
Houseparty is a video-focused social network app with the founders of the app recently joining the Epic family – creators of Fortnite. The app can bring together people to create social reactions with up to 8 friends (and friends of friends)at the same time, via live video and texts allowing only users to add people they already know via Facebook or their device’s contacts list.
Creating an account with Houseparty is simple, all is needed is a username and you can also add your phone number to give the app access to your contact list. This automatically allows you access to anyone on your list, but entering your phone number is optional. Users can also manually enter the Houseparty username of anyone they wish to chat with.
Chat requests are sent out to friends via notifications through the app or through text messages. As soon as a friend responds, the video chat is ready to begin. The real-time accessibility of this app allows friends to enjoy each others company as though they were all in the same room.
Released in 2016, the app became an overnight sensation and is still growing with over 20 million users. With its easy accessibility and fun, casual, atmosphere, Houseparty seems like the perfect way for anyone, especially teens, to connect with their friends.
The app has an age rating of 12+, however, it is easy for kids younger than 12 to enter any age when signing up. Our research found that 60% of HouseParty users are between the ages of 16 and 24.
Although it appears Houseparty’s advertising only features young people in their 20s, the app is popular among children under 18.
Some of the language and images Houseparty uses may be impressionable to very young children, particularly those that are vulnerable. So it’s important to monitor what your child is using the app for and who they are communicating with.
Although the app is relatively secure as users can create “rooms” and pick only specific names of the people to talk with, if a child doesn’t “lock” their chat room and choose private settings, others can pop into the video chat. So it’s important to show and sit down with your child to switch privacy filters and other controls on when video chatting. This keeps video chats private and secure.
Common Sense Media note: because there’s no screening and the video is live, there’s always the possibility of inappropriate content for kids. The biggest risks are communicating with people children don’t know well, sexting, pictures and screenshots getting shared around, and spending too much time in virtual hangouts.
Parents should also note that users can send links to their profiles on the app via a text message to anybody.
Since Houseparty is a video chat app, it can be used by sexual predators to communicate with minors, for example, making it a concern for parents. Houseparty has created a few security features making it harder for sexual predators to use the app:
If you’d like to learn more about the setting parental controls on devices other than smartphones.