Are Your Kids Flocking to ooVoo? This is What You Need to Know.

ooVoo
Image via Galit Breen

“OoVoo is FREE and offers high-quality video chat, instant messaging and collaborative stories.”

You’ve heard these juicy benefits before, so why are kids flocking to this specific group messaging app? Well, there are two reasons:

  1. It includes video and texting—kids love and need variety and choices. This is 100% developmentally appropriate.
  2. Your kids can use ooVoo with their friends even if they have different kinds of devices. This is unique and super important. We’ll dig into why below.

One thing about your kids that hasn’t changed—and probably never will—is that they’re social and they want to be where their friends are.

Dr. Ramey, the executive director of the Dayton Children’s Hospital Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources, wrote, “Learning how to connect with others and maintain good peer relationships is one of the most important competencies kids develop in childhood. These skills are critical to your child’s success and overall happiness.” So not only are your kids wired to focus on friendships in the school-age years, this focus is developmentally good for them.

Focusing in on the SOCIAL part of social media

In modern parenting terms, this means that your kids are using social media to connect with each other; and even if this looks different than the connecting that you and I did as kids, it still counts. So if you want to help your kids maneuver the online world, you have to meet them where they are and start seeing the positive side of the social part of social media. And this includes group texting apps.

Social media parents guide

There are so many group texting app choices. These may feel hard to keep up with as your kids may very well bounce around from one app to another. To keep this overwhelm at bay, I recommend understanding WHY your kids are choosing one group texting app one month and another the next. AND teaching your kids behavior specific skills rather than app specific rules.

Use this resource to help: There are 9 things to do TODAY to help your kids be safe online. 

This includes (modern) life skills such as being kind in a group texting situation, just like you would be in person. 

{ MORE: 3 Things You Need to Know About the HouseParty App for Kids }

ooVoo + kindness

My daughter and her friends recently jumped to ooVoo because they all have different kinds of devices and it’s a space where they can all connect with each other. The tender-hearted, “everybody’s included!” part of me loves this feature so very much.

It’s so important to feel like you belong and are a part of things, especially during the tween years. And I really appreciate the thought of making this easier to accomplish because of apps, rather than despite them!

But is ooVoo a safe choice for kids?

To be honest, it’s not more or less safe than any other social app or texting. Kids who are taught to make safe and kind choices online can truly use any app well, ooVoo included. While your kids are still learning these skills, it’s important to know a bit about the apps they’re learning on.

So let’s dig into what you need to know about ooVoo specifically.

The nitty-gritty ooVoo details

From the app itself:

“ooVoo provides crystal-clear video chat so you can talk to the people who matter most anywhere and anytime – For FREE.

Are you looking to FaceTime with more than one person or someone on a different device? We’ve got you covered! Whether a 1-on-1 or a group chat, we allow you to chat with up to 8 friends at once.

Friend isn't available to talk? We’ve added the ability to leave them a video message they can view when they get the chance!”

So far, so good. I love the focus on friendship and connecting and I can see where kids would love to leave video messages for each other.

Some ooVoo details to note are:

ooVoo is available on desktop, tablet, mobile, and the web making it super accessible.

Some app specific lingo includes:

Chains: Chains are a collection of short videos and texts created by your kids, their friends, and all the other people on ooVoo.

Trending: Your kids can see top videos from around the world.

Network: Your kids can watch their friends’ content.

Random: Your kids can see a mix of other creations from the ooVoo community.

Many parents have noted that there’s a lot of NSFW (Not Safe For Work) content on ooVoo, easily found in “Trending” and “Random.” So make sure to discuss this with your kids.

Use this to help guide those discussions: There are 9 things to do TODAY to help your kids be safe online. 

When a username is set on ooVoo, it can’t be changed and once it has been shared, it can be easily found.

The automatic setting on ooVoo is that “Anyone” can contact your kids. This means that their photo, username, and display name are all visible and anyone can send them a message.

There are two other setting choices. “No One,” where no one can contact your kids unless they’re an invited friend. Or a Middle Setting where only people who know their email or username can contact them.

You are able to block and report inappropriate content and contacts on ooVoo. Also, you can change your message and video settings to a way that both you and your kids feel good about.

Note: Be sure to double check that the settings you choose and agree upon are still in place after app updates.

There are programs that allow ooVoo users to record group video chats without anyone knowing. And, of course, anyone can record a video conversation on their phone, so be sure to discuss what’s okay to post and what’s not okay to post anywhere online. 

{ MORE: Introducing the Smart Nursery: Devices for the Tech-Savvy Parent }

This guide will help you start these conversations

The most important thing you can today is to start talking to your kids about their online use, including group texting. That’s why I created a detailed checklist for you to use while maneuvering this new terrain.

It includes 9 things you can start doing TODAY to keep your child safer online. It’s super helpful. Parents have told me that they appreciate that it covers the things you might not have thought of before. You can get it for free RIGHT HERE

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple, no-nonsense guide to teaching your kids how to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes that you can let your kids be online and still create a grass-beneath-your-bare-feet childhood for them. Get her guide with 9 things you can do TODAY to keep your kids safer online for free RIGHT HERE

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Are Your Kids Flocking to ooVoo? This is What You Need to Know.

Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development and was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her h ... More

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