What parents need to know about ooVoo

According to researchers at Penn State, when it comes to privacy management, adults and teens think very differently. While most adults think first and then ask questions, teens tend to take the risk and then seek help. Unfortunately, the privacy settings on many apps are initially set at the most lenient level. While teens prefer to download and go, making them slow down and change the privacy settings in the beginning can limit problems in the future. This is certainly true with ooVoo.

oovoo logoooVoo is a messaging app like Kik. It has been around for a while but recently it has been popping on my twitter feed and news alerts. Teens are moving to this app because unlike other services, teens can chat with their Apple friends as easily as their Android buddies or even their laptop friend. While ooVoo is ideal for hosting a study group session, parents and teens should take care. If teens do not lock down their settings, they may see a lot more than a smiling face.

What is ooVoo?

ooVoo is a free video, voice, and messaging app. On ooVoo, people can have group chats with up to 12 friends. They can video chat with friends on any Android or Apple mobile device as well as a laptop. Besides chatting, they can send each other photos, messages and exchange files.

oovoo chat

Why do kids love it?

Teens mostly use ooVoo to hang out with friends or organize study groups. ooVoo makes it much easier to bring friends and classmate together who are all using different devices with different operating systems. The app is free to download and kids can even download it on to their laptop.

What are the concerns?

Search #ooVoo on Twitter or Instagram and you will see why parents need to talk to their kids about this messaging app. The NSFW (Not Safe for Work) crowd is also on ooVoo. If teens have ooVoo set for “Anyone” to contact them, they may find sexually explicit content coming their way.

Nothing is really free and ooVoo is no exception. On Privacy Grade, ooVoo received a C grade. While free to download, ooVoo collects data, which they may share with marketing companies.

ooVoo states it is not for kids under 14. Google rates it as “medium maturity” although Apple rates it as “4+”. If a kid under 14 has downloaded ooVoo, parents can ask them to deactivate it or they can report the account to ooVoo.

 What should parents talk to teens about?

Keep Usernames Private – Like Kik, teens cannot change their username. If they post their username on a public network, such as Twitter or Instagram, their name is out there for anyone to see and anyone who sees it can contact them. Teens need to keep their username private. Also, they should change their public profile settings to hide their birthdate and gender.

oovoo2Adjust Privacy Settings –  The initial setting on ooVoo is that “Anyone” can contact them. This means their photo, username, display name is visible to everyone and anyone can send them a message. Allowing anyone in the world to contact them opens them up to more risky contact.

Teens can limit who can contact them by changing the privacy settings. By choosing “No one”, a teen has total control over who can contact them. When set to “No one”, no one can contact them unless they are an invited friend. ooVoo also has a middle setting where only people who know their email or username can contact them. Again, with this setting, parents need to talk about keeping these pieces of id private.

Block and Report Inappropriate Contacts – If they do receive an unwanted invitation or an inappropriate contact they can block the request. Once blocked, a user cannot contact them again.  If they are harassed or threatened, they can also report the person to ooVoo.

Think Before You Speak. – Anything people share online can be saved and forwarded. This is still true for a video chat. There are programs that allow ooVoo users to record group video chats without anyone knowing. Teens need to show the same respect in a group chat as they would when talking at a lunchroom table or sharing in front of the class. These chats can and sometimes do end up on YouTube.

 Do not forget to Log Out – When group chatting at a friend’s house, teens need to remember to log out, not just close the window. If their account is left open, anyone who has access to their device can mess with their ooVoo profile.

 For more information on ooVoo, check out these other great articles and look here for more app parenting guides.


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