The house party app has been in the news recently, with question marks of it being responsible for card fraud and hacking Spotify accounts. These were unsubstantiated claims, but there are genuine concerns if the Houseparty app safe for kids which we wanted to look at.
What is Houseparty?
House is a social media app on both iPhone and Android as is a real-time face-to-face social network. It’s simple to use, requires only basic personal details, and you can play games with friends. It’s actually been around since 2016 and was bought last year by Epic Games, the company who also made Fornite. And it’s free, which is useful. But the question many parents are asking is how safe is the house party app?
Is House Party safe to use?
There have been suggestions of links to fraud, but there are huge privacy issues here with uninvited guests but the major concern is the houseparty app child safety. Much like a real house party, a random stranger could turn up and interrupt your fun and make unwanted advances. The chatrooms can take up to 8 friends who can join freely, and that includes friends of friends. And there are no moderators to make sure it is being used responsibly. And there are no parental controls.
As a parent, I am not keen on the fact that it allows people to join groups without being invited. Especially as a feature allows you to invite people who are nearby. This is a massive red flag as it enables potential chat roulette situations with unexpected flashing. You can’t control what the other people are doing on camera, and I really would not be comfortable allowing children on this app. I’m not sure the houseparty app is safe in this respect.
My issue is it opens the door to the possibility of Paedophiles grooming children and very easy to expose themselves or goad kids to do the same. You would not want your kids talking to strangers in the street and this opens that up virtually. Even strangers aside, it enables peer pressure to be applied in friendship groups. Also, the fact children might think they are in a safe and fun environment when they are not.
Also, as an adult, my contacts list is full of people from my past I don’t really want to unexpectedly gatecrash a video phone conversation uninvited. I would prefer it if the rooms were locked and you could request access. Although there is a padlock to lock the room, this is not the default setting and only the room organiser can control it. This will be the same for children, they won’t always like everyone in their class, so might not appreciate unwanted attention from friends of friends.
So is the Houseparty App Safe for Kids or not?
I love the concept of the app, especially with it giving a source of social interaction during lockdown. But it is too open for children to have unwanted encounters and pressure to do things they are not comfortable in. For that reason, I would personally not be comfortable in allowing my kids to use it and do not think the houseparty app is safe.
As parents, of course, the decision is yours. Everything comes down to trust levels with your children, particularly how comfortable they are in talking to you if a situation happens. But for me, I do not deem the house party app safe for kids unsupervised. Yes in theory there are the same issues with other social media like TikTok, Whatsapp and Instagram. But someone sending an unwanted message is different from live video pressure.
Either way, you should always practise smartphone safety with your children.
The app was created in 2016 but came to prominence during the coronavirus lockdown of 2020 as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and play games.