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.
Is House Party safe to use?
There have been suggestions of links to fraud, but there are huge privacy issues here with uninvited guests. 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. You can’t control what the other people are doing on camera, and I really would not be comfortable allowing children on this app.
My issue is it opens the door to the possibility of Paedophiles grooming children, exposes children to talk to strangers, but also that 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.