While at home awaiting the arrival of my sweet child from middle school, I received (and answered) the following text messages.

My first thought was “Oh, sh*t.” Then I took a deep breath. “You got this, tell her you will talk about it when she gets home.”  See what I did there, I responded with ‘we will TALK about it.” Having conversations around technology use with your family should be a DAILY occurance.

My second thought was “OK, here we go! Time to pull out the Digital Parenting Savvy Cyber Kids cyberhero skills. So, here is what I did.


  • Went to commonsensemedia.org, searched for the app zooroom.
  • Results – Nothing found. Damn, this app is too new.


  • Googled zooroom
  • Results – Found the Apple itunes app store and Google play store links. Then saw the company’s site, zooroom.chat


  • Went to zooroom.chat
  • Result – ALARMS GOING OFF. NO REGISTRATION !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!


  • I went to read the apps reviews. I always ignore the 5 star reviews and look for what is really going on in the user community.
  • Result – ALARMS GOING OFF!?!?!?!?!?!?!!  See selected reviews below.


  • Decided to research a better alternative for live video chat with more than one person at a time to present to my child. Went back to commonsensemedia.org and search for “group video chat”
  • Result – narrowed in on two options that have been reviewed for for younger kids (13+ vs 17+/18+). After reading about Fam and Houseparty, I decided Houseparty would actually be the best fit for my child’s needs.


  • Set up House party WITH my middle schooler.

Is your child’s school work collaborative and does he or she need access to a tool for live group video chat?  Here are the steps we took to download and install Houseparty in a safe and secure way. Follow these steps (and share with your child’s friends and their parents) so that you can feel safe about your teen on a group video chat.


  • Ask your parents if you can use the group video chat app Houseparty.
  • Download the app when given permission.
  • When setting up a new account:
    • Do NOT use a profile picture.
    • Use one of your parent’s email addresses (ask them which one to use).
    • Do not put in your real name (a single letter will work just fine).
    • For your username, make sure it does not have your real name in it.
    • Skip (top-right of screen in gray) – Do NOT enter phone number.
    • Address book – click next and then DON’T ALLOW when asked.
    • Skip (top-right of screen in gray) – Do NOT connect to facebook.
    • On the permissions screen, make these selections:
      • Allow camera and microphone access.
      • For Notifications – tap the circle and select if you want to be notified.
      • For Enable Location – tap the circle and select DON’T ALLOW.
    • You will see ADD Friends green button, tap it and select Add By Name and type in all of your usernames for the group chat.
    • Start using the app!


  • Only connect with people you know in real life!
  • Lock the room once all of you are in the group video chat
  • Deny all requests to connect unless you know the person in real life.
  • Tell your parents if something strange happens with the app

For more digital parenting, check out Savvy Cyber Kids free resources.

Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.

Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!

Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.