updated January 8, 2021
What is Houseparty?
**COVID-19 note related to Houseparty: Houseparty is currently the most popular social media/video streaming platform in the App Store. Kids are flocking to it! The quick bottom line is that it’s fun but kids need to be sure to “lock the chat” to prevent trolls from showing up. You can read more details below or watch the video above.
Description: Houseparty is a really fun way to have a group video chat – almost like FaceTiming with up to eight people at once. Users invite people to join their “party” with a text message.
Each time you open the app, you are instantly connected with any contacts who are also on the app, giving you the option to start a group chat. For a more private chat, you can “lock” the room so others can’t join (recommended). 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 send photos or even send a “side text,” which is a private conversation with someone in the chat, which disappear after 24 hours.
Each Houseparty user has a unique invite code that is accessed through the plus symbol in the upper right corner. When clicked on, the plus automatically opens up a text message that includes the code, inviting friends into a video chat.
App Store Category: social networking
App Store Rating: 12+
- Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
- Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
- Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
Corporate website: https://houseparty.com/
What do parents need to know about Houseparty?
Does Houseparty have privacy concerns? Houseparty is live streaming, which means kids need to be aware of privacy risks. During the set-up process, users are asked to give Houseparty access to (1) camera and microphone, (2) notifications, and (3) location. You can opt out of allowing location access, which for a teen user, we highly recommend.
Also, the app will state that a user’s profile is incomplete without including their birthday. We don’t believe that the birthday is necessary. It’s 50% of the identity theft equation (that plus the last four digits of your social security number). We recommend not ever including it in digital environments (including Facebook!).
Don’t forget – everything can be screenshot. There are no second chances with live conduct. And, iOS now allows for an easy screencast (video recording of what’s happening on the screen).
Does Houseparty have parental controls? No, there aren’t. But, according to our friends at Bark:
“Bark is currently able to monitor Houseparty on Android devices, but not on iOS devices due to API restrictions. Specifically, Bark will monitor Notes, which are the messages passed between users while inside the app. Bark’s monitoring will let you know if there’s anything to be concerned about, allowing you to open a dialogue with your child.”
What about predators on Houseparty? Of course. If it’s an app used by kids, then it’s an app with predatory risks. All video chats are public by default, allowing any friends of friends to show up, unless the person who originated the chat “locks” the room. Parents – make sure your child knows exactly what to do if a troll shows up.
Houseparty gives each user an invite code that can be sent to anyone to invite them into a video chat “party.” If your child uses Houseparty, make sure they know your expectations about how this code is used.
Did you know that Snapchat Stories now show up in Houseparty? Yes, kids using Houseparty could see Snapchat Stories content from friends without ever leaving Houseparty. Tech Crunch: Snapchat will Power Stories and Ads in Other Apps (Tinder, Houseparty)
Did you know that Houseparty is owned by Epic Games (Fortnite)? As of November 2020, PC, PS4, and PS5 users can now use Houseparty to video chat while playing Fortnite. Epic acquired Houseparty last year and has made the leap to integrate the two. Parents can toggle off the feature in Fortnite’s settings.
The bottom Line: Is Houseparty safe?
If you’re going to allow your child to use this app, parents will want to cover:
- What to do if a stranger shows up (“lock all rooms”).
- The importance of good behavior in live situations, which can be recorded.
We are warm to Houseparty for the high school audience, based on the risk factors noted above. We’re really not wild about its glamorization of alcohol use – its tagline of, “Friends on Tap,” or a recent “waving” feature at friends called “buzzing.” Just too many party references. But, in terms of how it’s used, it can be fun.
Now What? Have you Heard of Bark?
Are you interested in having greater insight into the social media platforms that your kids are using? Bark is one of the best platforms we’ve tested. If your kid is using social media, then they need Bark. We trust them and we think you should, too!
*There may be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!