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.
SETUP INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOUSEPARTY:
- 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.
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