I failed. Shoemaker’s children syndrome. Have you heard of ooVoo? I have, which makes my failure worse. After all, it is my job to know the apps kids are using and how to keep them safe while using them. So what’s the story, you ask?
About a month ago, my daughter, who is 9 years old, mentioned that she was using ooVoo to video chat with her friend that is unable to use Facetime. As you can imagine, the topic came up at an inconvenient time and I thought ‘Oh, I need to check the settings for her.’ I had the thought, but never had the time. Unlike some of you, I do know what ooVoo is but I was too busy and too preoccupied at the time to actually check her settings. Until….someone strange sent her a request, which immediately got my attention!
I have to tell you that I was shocked to hear that she even knew what ooVoo was, much less that she downloaded it and was a user. So I share this with you because most parents have no idea what ooVoo is while their kids are most likely quite familiar with this video chatting service and are actively using it. For your convenience, here’s a quick 101 on ooVoo:
What is it? ooVo is a high quality video chat application. Think Facetime or Skype. It allows people to connect with up to 12 friends at one time and video chat or have a voice call. You can download it on an iPad, iTouch, iPhone, Android phone, etc. And shamefully, I tell you that you must be 13 years old to set up an account, which doesn’t slow anyone down who can subtract 13 years from 2014.
What are the concerns for your child using ooVoo? As with all social media, the main concern is who can search out your child easily. The easier it is to find the child, the faster a predator will find them, start talking to them and find a way to connect with them without the child realizing what is happening. The second concern is the way in which ooVoo is being used. In my case, my daughter was using it with only 2 friends as a way to do crafts with each other – virtually. Take a second to figure out when, where, and why your child is using this app.
How do you manage your child’s ooVoo account?
- Always know your child’s password. This will allow you to ensure that they are using ooVoo safely.
- Make sure that the privacy settings are properly set up. Without using the privacy settings, your child can be contacted by anyone at anytime and anyone can see the profile of your child. I have my daughter’s set to ‘Nobody’ so that only people who know her ooVoo ID can contact her.
- Review the history of your child’s account. You will be able to see who they are chatting and messaging with. Ensure that you know all of these people and are comfortable with it. Note that your child can erase the history.
- If your child receives an unwanted friend request, ignore it AND check the box to Also block this person from contacting me again.
- Frequently review your child’s friends to ensure that you know them all.
- Remind your child to always log out when they are finished using ooVoo, especially if another person’s device is being used.
- Learn how to use the product! If your child knows that you are involved and understand the technology they are using, they will not feel free to do whatever they please because “Mom doesn’t have a clue how this works!”
ooVoo is not necessarily bad. Like most social media apps, there are some great uses for kids. For example, working on a group project would be a great use of ooVoo, given the ability to have multiple users on the same video chat session. However, the dangers come when kids use them in unproductive ways and when the privacy settings are not set tightly. This is where our job as parents is so critical. This is where I dropped the ball. Thankfully, my daughter came to me immediately when she received this strange friend request. I was lucky this time. I vow to pay much closer attention in the future. I hope you do too!