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6 apps like Houseparty parents should be aware of

With our children’s social interactions shifting toward the online space, apps like Houseparty have become trendy virtual venues for young people to hang out.

The interactive platforms do not just provide video calling functionality but also have built-in games, fun filters, and tools that show your friends’ availability to chat.

In this article, we look at the world of apps like Houseparty, briefly sharing the benefits and the possible risks. It will help leave parents in a position to make up their minds wisely concerning their children’s online activity.

What is the Houseparty app?

While the Houseparty app is no longer available, it was one such community-based application that focused on fun chat and group video calls. Envision a virtual space where you and your friends can see and interact with one another with no hassle.

Houseparty app on the phone

A Houseparty “room” can accommodate up to eight people while this app automatically divides the screen to show everyone’s faces.

Houseparty’s distinctive aspect lies in the fact that it notifies your friends automatically when you open the app. Therefore, it’s easy to jump into a group video made spontaneous.

It was not just about video calling either. In addition, Houseparty adapted games like trivia and charades, which you could play with your friends directly in the video chat room.

This was an integral part of it that made it a perfect opportunity to bond with friends through chatting and laughing.

Besides, the App also offered funny features such as filtering effects through which you could add things like backgrounds, masks, and so on during your chat.

The app’s social features and interactive games made it a leading app for groups who want to socialize virtually while having fun together.

Why did Houseparty shut down?

Houseparty, the famous group chat application, unfortunately, is no longer in the market. The closure of Houseparty has been motivated mainly by business-related issues.

In 2019, Epic Games, the game maker behind Fortnite, bought Houseparty. Later on, in September 2021, Epic informed that Houseparty was discontinued.

Epic Games decided to switch its business model and start investing in the development of its own metaverse and Fortnite gaming experience.

Moreover, the peak of Houseparty usage also fell after the lockdowns, as individuals began to meet in person socially.

However, some elements of the technology were directly adopted by Fortnite, and the employees of Houseparty were redistributed among other Epic Games projects.

Although the Houseparty app is now defunct, parents nonetheless should monitor closely whatever group video chats and social apps their kids are using.

6 apps like Houseparty parents should know

While the once-popular Houseparty app no longer exists, an enormous number of similar apps with virtual meeting and group video chat functions have appeared on the market.

Let us go through six apps similar to Houseparty and what parents should know about them. These include their unique features, age ratings, and risks.

Bunch

Bunch app

Bunch is a group video chatting app tailored for friends and families to have virtual meetings. Like Houseparty, Bunch offers up to 8 people to join the video call with the aim of entertaining them through various interactive activities.

One of its distinctive functions is allowing its users to view movies, TV shows, and YouTube videos simultaneously with friends while having a video chat. Multiple-player games like Pictionary and trivia quizzes are also part of the Bunch package for maximum entertainment.

The app has an age requirement of 12+ years. However, it is advisable to keep a close eye on children as the content shared during calls may not be moderated.

Squad

Squad is an app that is focused on group video chats. It is designed to mimic the social aspect of being together in person. The app also has a “rooms” feature like in the Houseparty where users can jump into live group video conversations.

The app has several built-in games like trivia, truth or dare, and drawing games that users can play together during their video chats.

Squad is cross-platform and supports playing across PC, mobile, and console platforms, which translates to gamers being able to link up regardless of their preferred device. The app also provides functions such as screen sharing, voice, and text chat, and the opportunity to stream gameplay.

Squad has been rated as being suitable for players aged 17 and beyond. Because the likely exposure to the strong language and potentially coarse content is too often present in online gaming communities.

Discord

Discord

Discord is a widely used communication application initially designed as a tool for online gamers. Now it is also employed by many online communities. It utilizes text, voice, and video chat, with servers that users can join for common interests, activities, or discussions on common topics.

These servers are the links to voice channels and contain the tools that help to send messages, share media, and even stream their video game playbacks.

Discord is rated for ages 13+, but it has no clear content moderation and parental controls. Therefore, parents should be aware of the potential exposure to inappropriate content or online risks for their kids.

Fam

Fam is a video conferencing app developed purposely for families to keep in touch. It has a dedicated section called “Family Rooms” that facilitates private calls between extended family members, who are able to communicate within a persistent video call room.

Fam provides interactive activities that include movie nights, storytime, virtual play dates, and many other fun activities to keep children engaged.

The platform comes with a solid parental control feature in order to moderate the room and regulate access.

App Store rates Fam as 4+, which is appropriate for children, but still recommends parental supervision during the use of this app.

Airtime

Airtime, which is now called Cantina, is a social video messaging service where users communicate through shared experiences.

It has a particular feature that enables you to watch videos/movies while chatting with your friends through video chat. There is also the provision of multiplayer games, quizzes, and cinematic experiences among other virtual activities.

The app has a 12+ rating on the App Store because it may display mature content during a joint viewing. Parental monitoring should be highly advised because it is necessary to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content.

Google Duo

Google duo

Google Duo was a straightforward, easy-to-use video-calling app that Google merged with Google Meet in late 2022. Although Duo lacks some interactive features, its strength remains in its simplicity and easy integration.

It provides for one-to-one and group video calls of up to 32 participants. Google Duo has received a 3+ rating in the App Store which means it is suitable for every age group.

Nevertheless, parents should still monitor younger children as the app has no filtering or mediating function during the video calls.

What do parents need to know about apps like Houseparty?

Applications such as Houseparty may be fun for the kids to connect, but as parents, there are some safety issues we must recognize. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Exposure to inappropriate content: Although the main function of these apps is socializing and organizing group events. Users can mistakenly send or receive pornographic and explicit content through video calls and group conversations. Parental Controls and moderation are different from app to app.
  1. Privacy concerns: The majority of group chat apps impose requirements concerning the camera, microphone, and location access of the device. We have witnessed situations where private data were exposed, and people’s personal conversations were disclosed.
  1. Lack of robust parental controls: In many instances, apps like Houseparty do not offer any parental control features, or just a few. Hence, this case denies parents the ability to gauge or limit their children’s online activities in the application.
  1. Risk of online predators: Just as with any online platform, there is a problem of predators who through those platforms exploit or take advantage of children. The predator can try to lead the child by having inadequate conversations or providing him/her with personal information.
  1. Cyberbullying and harassment: This kind of group app can give opportunities for cyberbullying, sexual harassment, or being abdicated from online social circles. The children become victims of untrue accusations and other ways of bullying online as a result of these issues.

[Bonus] Advice for parents on kids’ usage of apps like Houseparty

Even though the Houseparty app may no longer exist, video chat apps will continue to pop up. Here are some key tips to ensure your child has a safe and positive experience on these platforms:

  1. Open communication: Encourage your children to speak up and share their experiences and any worries they have. The availability of this line of communication can help you to have a better insight into how they are using these apps and spot any potential issues at an early stage.
  1. Set boundaries and rules: Establish clear rules and scree time limits governing the right use of video call applications. This may include rules about who they can communicate with, what type of content is allowable, and how much time they can spend on these apps. 
  1. Utilize parental controls: Consider implementing a full-featured parental control app, like the FlashGet Kids app, ensuring the parents have extra control and monitoring capabilities. FlashGet Kids provides a range of features to help you monitor and manage your children’s online activities:
    • App blocker: Censor or totally block some apps, including video chat applications, during certain hours or always.
    • Screen time: Establish screen time limits for each app and train your child to have healthier screen time habits.
    • Web filter: Block and filter inappropriate sites, thus protecting your child from harmful content on the internet.
    • Location tracking: Keep an eye on your kid’s location for additional convenience.
  1. Educate and empower: Teach your kids the best online safety practices, like not sharing personal data, and never initiating conversations with strangers. Equip them with the necessary knowledge. Stress that they have to come to you if they find themselves in the middle of any problems.

Final Thoughts

Apps like Houseparty are the most popular way for people, especially for the young, to be able to stay socially connected. These platforms tend to provide users with convenience and entertainment. However, we urge parents to remain very watchful for the sake of their kids’ safety online.

Forging a solid and safe online environment for kids necessitates a collective effort to make it a place for responsible and pleasure-giving digital activities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kidcaring, Chief Writer in FlashGet Kids.
She is dedicated to shaping parental control in the digital world. She is an experienced expert in the parenting industry and has engaged in reporting and writing different parental control apps. For the past five years, she has provided additional parental guides for the family and has contributed to changing parenting methods.

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