What is the Houseparty app?
The Houseparty app was discontinued in 2021. If your child has it or a copycat of it on their device, it’s best to uninstall it to keep them secure.
Houseparty is a video-focused social network app that allows up to 8 friends to create social reactions at the same time. It uses live video and texts, allowing only users to add people they already know via Facebook or their device’s contacts list.
Why was Houseparty discontinued?
Epic Games acquired Houseparty in June 2019. While the Covid-19 pandemic saw its sudden growth, the gaming company still decided to close it in October 2021.
In their official statement, Epic Games said that the Houseparty team’s focus would shift towards socialising in their video games. The company integrated some features of Houseparty into some games. However, they said they could no longer give its full attention to Houseparty.
How does it work?
Creating an account with Houseparty is simple. All children need is a username with the option of adding their phone number. Doing this gives the app access to their contact list to add friends to Houseparty. 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 other’s company as if in the same room.
Why is Houseparty so popular?
Released in 2016, the app became an overnight sensation, growing to millions of users. With its easy accessibility and fun, casual, atmosphere, Houseparty appeals to anyone, especially teens, who wants to connect with their friends.
Is the Houseparty app safe?
The app is discontinued, which means its security and privacy features are no longer updated. Users cannot use the app but might have a copycat. If your child still has Houseparty or a copy of the app on their device, they risk security or data breaches.
60% of Houseparty users are between the ages of 16 and 24. While it appears Houseparty’s advertising features young people in their 20s, the app is popular among children under 18.
Some of the language and images in the app could negatively affect very young children and those with vulnerabilities. So it’s important to monitor what your child uses the app for and who they communicate with.
Available safety features
Since Houseparty is a video chat app, sexual predators might use it to communicate with minors. However, Houseparty created a few security features making it harder for predators to use the app:
- House Rules – under the ‘House Rules’ section in the app, Houseparty has a list of “rules” that it states are not meant to be broken. In reality, these are features that the app offers to help provide a better user experience and more security.
- Room lock – users can also lock the ‘room’ using a lock button on the bottom left side of the app’s home page. This prevents anyone from joining the room, including preventing other users from joining the room per invite from anyone else.
- “Stranger Danger” – Houseparty advertises a feature called “Stranger Danger”, which alerts users when individuals they may not know, enter their room. It warns against strangers, but also suggests strangers might be a reason for “party time!”
- Location sharing – is an option to add other users who are nearby using a location-based “Near Me” option. This location-based searching can be turned off.
- Private mode – you can enable this feature so every ‘room’ you’re in will be locked. Even when you’re alone.
What are the risks?
- Contact from harmful strangers
- Inappropriate content
Because the Houseparty app is discontinued, children face additional security risks if they use a copycat or managed to keep it installed on their device.
Advice for parents
The Houseparty app is discontinued. Users cannot install it any longer. If it’s still on your child’s device, ask them about it. It could be a copycat or the remnants of the app to uninstall.
- Make sure they ‘lock’ their chat room.
- Advise your teen to use a password different to others they are currently using.
- Discuss with your teen the dangers of adding people they don’t know or accepting requests from people they don’t know.
- Always check with your teen about who they are chatting with and what types of conversations are taking place.
- Set up parental controls on their devices to control the level of security.
- Talk to your child about building up their digital resilience and critical thinking – as another way to highlight the need to help them cope with whatever the online world throws at them.