House Party is the latest app you’ll want to have on your radar. House Party is a video chat app, developed by the team who built and then shut down live streaming app Meerkat . You can chat with up to 7 other friends at a time within the app. While Live streaming apps let you transmit to the masses, House Party is different in that these are closed conversations. Well, sort of – and that is where you might want to be aware of how House Party works before you decide if it’s a good choice for your tween or teen.
What parents should know about House Party
How it works
To connect with friends, you’ll either allow the app to access the Contacts list on your phone or enter a friend’s House Party username.
To use your contacts, you must enter a phone number. You can still use the app without entering your phone number, but then you’ll have to add your friends’ usernames in manually. So, even kids with just an iPod touch (the younger set) could still access and use House Party.
When your friend is “in the house” (i.e. has opened up the app) you will receive a notification. You’ll receive a LOT of notifications depending on the number of friends you’ve connected with. Notifications can be turned off, in Settings (which are hard to find, – click on the three lines in the upper left corner, which takes you to the Friends screen. Then click on the gear icon at the top). What’s nice here is that you can fine-tune this – receive notifications from some friends but not others.
You’ll also see which friends are online when you open the app. Then you can start a chat with them. You’ll also see if they are currently in a conversation (called a “room”).
Privacy on House Party
Once in a chat, you can make the room Private and nobody else can join the conversation. Press the three dots in the lower left of the chat window, to reveal the option to “Lock the Room“, and a few other choices.
However if you don’t make the room private, friends of any participant can simply pop into the chat. For example, if Chloe is in a chat with Lily and Emma, any of Lily’s or Emma’s friends could join the chat, even if Chloe does not know them. This is where you may want to talk about privacy concerns – once you’re in a chat with some friends-of-friends, those friends can request to add you as a friend. So while you start out using the app just with people you already know – from your contacts list or adding by username – there is potential for widening that circle beyond those you know. Similar to an actual house party, you may meet new people.
Speaking of privacy – as with any app, nothing is really private. Anyone in the chat can take a screenshot and save it, or share it in text, e-mail, social media sites.
The House Party logo is a red solo cup – indicative of a party atmosphere (and kegs of beer, or at least that was my association).
There is no age verification. The app is rated 4+ in the app store, which is surprising as most apps similar to this are at least 12+.
Between the red solo cup, emoji, and the app store rating, it does seem that House Party is marketing itself to a younger demographic. According to Mashable, the House Party team did some early marketing efforts on college campuses. The app reportedly has over 1 million registered users.
Overall, House Party looks like a fun way for teens to connect with friends when they can’t be in the same physical location. There are practical uses too – such as working on a school project together, or a group chat to figure out some weekend plans. Just be wary of the constant notifications – you’re always going to know when your friends are chatting away without out you. There is definitely an addictive quality and “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is real.
Has your teen discovered House Party?