Social networks, apps and games
Icon for Houseparty. Waving hand emoji.

Houseparty

Houseparty is a free video chat app where you can talk to people one-on-one or in groups of up to eight, with people you know and people you might not. You can also play games with the people you’re chatting to.

13+

Official age rating

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Our safety ratings

Overall safety rating:

Our overall rating for Houseparty

Poor


Because Houseparty isn’t automatically private and might connect you with people you don’t know, we think it’s best if under 18s don’t use it.

If all the privacy settings are set up properly, it might be appropriate for those aged 16+. However, whatever your child’s age, if you decide to let them use it, take the time to set it up together and follow our tips below to help keep them safe.

Safety features

There are no parental controls available on the app and little information about how parents and carers can keep their child safe. They do have community guidelines that outline how they’re trying to keep the app safe.

Houseparty says you need to be 13+ to create an account but as they only verify age by asking for date of birth, you can easily put in a different date.

Houseparty isn’t automatically set to private. This means that when you’re using the app, your friends (or even friends of friends that you may not know) can automatically start a video chat with you, without you having to accept.

People can also see what calls you’re in and who with and are able to join without inviting you.

You can set your account to ‘private mode’ which means you can only talk to people who you invite to your ‘room’.

Privacy & location

You can only add someone on Houseparty if you have their username. However, it suggests friends to you based on your phone contacts, Facebook friends, Snapchat followers and friends of friends. This means you can easily be connected with and chat to someone you don’t know.

Houseparty also uses your location to connect you with friends that might be nearby. You can disable location settings in the permission section of your account.

Reporting & blocking

If you come across something upsetting on the app you can choose to ‘ghost’, report, block or unfriend. You can find these options by clicking on the smiley icon and selecting my friends.

You can’t report specific pieces of content but when you go to report a user you’re given an option to add more detail.

Content

One reason Houseparty is so popular is because you can play trivia games like Pictionary and Heads Up with your friends. This is a unique feature which a lot of other video chat apps don’t have.

We didn’t come across anything inappropriate while playing the games but some of them might feature more adult themes or figures that young children might not know about.

If your account is set to public you could be sent videos or comments from people you don’t know.

O2 Guru top tip

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Switch to ‘Private Mode’

In settings, turn on ‘Private Mode’ so that all your chats are automatically private.

Top tips for staying safe

Sitting down with your child and exploring their favourite app or game is a great way for you to learn more about what they like to do online.

You can ask them why they like to use an app or play certain games, as well as who they’re talking to and what sorts of things they’re sharing.

You can also read our Net Aware reviews for tips on how to keep kids safe on popular apps, sites and games.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You shouldn't give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

Your child might receive upsetting or inappropriate messages or comments from other users on Houseparty.

If this happens, they can ‘ghost’, report, block or unfriend other users by clicking on the smiley icon and selecting ‘My friends’.

For each friend you can:

  • Ghost - stay anonymous from certain people without deleting them. It means they won’t see when you’re online but you can still choose to talk to them
  • Report – report someone if they’ve sent something that breaks the community guidelines (these are called the Party Guidelines)
  • Block – choose to block someone without them knowing. This means they can't contact you. You can also unblock them if you want
  • Unfriend – stop being friends with someone, which means they can no longer contact you. Unlike blocking, you can’t undo this without the other person being notified

Explore these features with your child and talk about when they might want to use it.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

In settings, make sure ‘Private Mode’ is switched on so your child’s chats are kept private. This should help keep your child’s contacts to people they know.

People you know or people you don’t know might try to add you as a friend on Houseparty and you can choose to ‘accept’ or ‘ignore’ them.

With your child, show them how to ignore friend requests from people they don’t know, even from friends of friends. Remind them video chatting is best kept to people you know, like close friends and family members, as a great way to keep in touch.

People can also use the ‘wave’ icon to say they want to chat. If your child doesn’t know who is waving at them, remind them to block the user.

And be aware, even if ‘Private Mode’ is switched on, people can still search your name and try to add you. In settings, you can change your child’s name and username to something more anonymous so they’re harder to identify in searches.

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

It’s important to remind your child that they can talk you, another adult they trust, like a teacher, or Childline about anything they see online.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

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