I first wrote about OoVoo about a year ago when I talked about a few “Apps and Sites to look out for”. I recently gave OoVoo a closer look after a friend had a few questions about it.
OoVoo is a video chat and messaging app, and is available for iPhone/iPod/iPads and Androids. You can also use OoVoo on a computer (PC or MAC). With OoVoo you can video chat with up to 12 people at a time; you can see four people at once on screen during these video chats. I think this is the feature that kids really like. While kids can use FaceTime on their iPods and iPads, FaceTime only allows for a two-way call. OoVoo will let them have a little video chat party.
Unlike Kik, OoVoo doesn’t have the built-in features like sending YouTube videos or playing games. Unlike Keek, privacy settings exist. Unlike Snapchat, messages don’t disappear. Unlike Tango, location settings don’t give away where you are in the world. These are some of the reasons that I don’t have too much of a problem with OoVoo – as long as kids remember privacy and safety.
How to use OoVoo Safely
1. In your profile, use your first name only.
2. Create a username that doesn’t include your last name.
3. Use a profile picture that doesn’t give away where you live (hey kids, don’t take a picture in front of your school!)
4. Same with the profile video (a video status messages called an “ooVie”). Don’t divulge personal information. Or, just use one of the generic videos that come with OoVoo.
5. Don’t add a status message (and if you do, don’t add personal information. You can note the theme here: don’t put your personal and private information in the profile!)
6. Use the Privacy settings.
Another plus for OoVoo is a privacy option where you can specify how and if people can find you on OoVoo. You can choose either “Anyone”, “People who know my email address or ooVoo ID”, or “Nobody”. Choose the middle option as shown, and there is less of a chance that random strangers will find you and send you messages. With this option, a friend who knows your e-mail address – presumably a friend – can find you and send you a friend request. You could also choose “Nobody” in which case, I think someone would have to type in your OoVoo ID directly.
To find these settings, click the profile photo, click the Settings icon (“gear” icon) and then select “Privacy & Security”.
Keep your contact information PRIVATE!
As I mention in nearly all my articles – don’t put your OoVoo ID (or Instagram name or Kik name or Ask.fm link or e-mail address or phone number) on the internet where anyone can get to it! Time and time again, through my research on these apps and checking in on my daughter’s internet activity, I’ll see where kids are sharing their phone numbers and user ID’s freely. If I can see them, so can others.
Another habit I’ve observed is when kids will take a screenshot of their conversation or video chat and share that picture on other social networks. Always remind kids that if they do this, they immediately lose control of that image; it could easily be shared or saved by anyone on the receiving end. THINK TWICE! (Or even three times…)
Ads on OoVoo
Oovoo is free to download, and there will be ads shown within the app. Keep in mind children could mistake the ads as being part of the app. I noticed one that looked like a game with a flashing red notification icon – a child could easily be misled thinking that is part of the app and click the ad. There is premium option for the mobile app, $4.99 a year to remove ads.
Speaking of kids and OoVoo – Should kids even use OoVoo?
Kids and OoVoo?
Note the OoVoo terms of service – users must be at least 13 years of age. That is something I’ve mentioned before and you may be wondering, why 13? Why is 13 the magic number? It’s due to a FTC ruling called the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). When a company creates a website or app specifically for children 13 and younger, they are bound by the COPPA rules. One provision is a requirement to obtain parental approval before a child can create an account. Companies don’t want to go through the trouble, so will simply have terms that state “not designed for users under 13 years of age”. That’s why many popular apps like Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, even Facebook, have 13 as the cut-off. And sites like Webkinz, Moshi Monsters, and Disney which are clearly intended for children do require that you as a parent okay the account.
More about COPPA from OnGuard Online: Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online
Keep reminding your kids to use discretion when using apps and sites for the safest experience.