Welcome to a house party in a whole new way! It’s the new app teenagers have been talking about in my counseling office. Basically, it’s an app where you can video chat with up to 8 friends at once. As a side note, while video chatting 8 friends, you can text one (or several) friends in particular. It’s enough to make your over-30 year-old head spin…but not theirs!
House Party can be an innocent way to connect with multiple friends at once. But, as always, we want to be educated, as adults, and help the kids we love be informed. The primary concerns about the House Party app center around privacy. The app developers have outlined rules for use, including positive guidelines such as no nakedness or bullying. However, we know how difficult this can be to control when the conversations are taking place live.
The app has specific privacy settings which enable the user to lock a conversation. If the settings aren’t enabled for privacy, any of your friends or friends’ friends can pop into the conversation. The app does warn when an uninvited user enters the chat. However, most of us would say the teenagers in our lives are both forgetful and often unaware…and did we mention impulsive? So, those privacy settings are paramount to them not only being protected but wise online. We have heard several accounts of concerning and even destructive relationships finding their beginnings through “friends’ friends” on the app.
As with so many apps and technology trends coming into the lives of the kids we love, House Party can be a fun way to connect, but it also has the potential to go awry. If your kids already have House Party downloaded on their gadgets, have a conversation with them.
Tell me why you like the app?
Have you met new people while using it?
How are you maintaining privacy?
What do you feel the concerns might be with it?
If they haven’t downloaded it, but ask to, you can ask similar questions. We always want the kids we love to be learning responsible use with technology. This comes as much—really, more, from them connecting the dots than us always connecting them for them. Ask questions. Have conversation. Protect them, if they’re not quite old enough for a house party…in the real or virtual world. Help them understand why privacy is important and also, the importance and difference in real-world relationships and those created and maintained in the social media world. And, by the way, the icon for the app is a red solo cup…so that gives you a little more insight into the age the developers are targeting. Let’s continue to ask good questions, and gradually teach the kids we love responsibility in all aspects of their lives. Stay with us for more Technology Tuesdays and general parenting help for your journey at raisingboysandgirls.com.