Experts in digital safety
Connecting with strangers on the internet might not sound like a great deal of fun – but random chat apps are surprisingly popular, with more and more surfacing year after year, despite frequent removal from the App Store and Google Play. If you have children, it’s important that you and your child understand why random chat apps are more dangerous than fun. Here’s everything your family needs to know about the HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat app, and why it isn’t safe for your kids to use.
HOLLA app ratings
Apple: HOLLA was removed from the App Store following complaints of unwanted sexual content.
Android: Mature (17+)
What is HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat?
HOLLA is a video chat app that allows people to connect with strangers in real time, anywhere around the world. In the style of Tinder, users can swipe right on the suggested profiles until they make a “match”. Once a match is made, users are paired and the live video chat starts. Once inside the chat, users can play with filters and special effects. HOLLA describes itself as “a place to have fun and make friends”.
In order to chat using HOLLA, users must first sign up to the service. HOLLA is a freemium-style app, meaning it’s free to sign up and use, but in-app purchases in the form of “gems” are available. These gems allow users to be more selective in who they chat to – for example, only matching with a particular gender. HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat also has a Premium version, which allows users access to more features, such as additional gems.
What do kids like about HOLLA?
In today’s world, internet friendships are a very real thing – kids from around the world meet to play games, share content, and chat about their different interests and experiences. HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat’s marketing is all about making friends, experiencing new cultures, and getting to know new people.
Apps and services which allow users to connect with strangers anywhere in the world are nothing new – online chat services Omegle and Chatroulette have been popular for many years now. HOLLA, on the other hand, may be slightly more attractive to younger audiences thanks to the interactive filter features, and the fact that it can be easily downloaded from the Play Store, rather than just accessed through a website.
Some children also probably feel tempted by the unknown – as you never know who you’re going to be matched with on HOLLA, there is a level of mystery that adds to the video chat experience.
In addition, the marketing and language that HOLLA uses could make children feel that using and chatting with the app is safe. HOLLA states:
“To protect the safety of users like you, any inappropriate behavior is prohibited on HOLLA.”
This, paired with marketing pictures of friendly-looking younger adults, could contribute to children feeling a false sense of security when engaging with HOLLA, who attempt to reassure users they won’t come up against anything which makes them feel unsafe while chatting.
Is HOLLA safe for kids?
HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat is not designed for kids to use – in order to create an account, users must be over 18 (however, this is easily bypassed). Random video apps pose various dangers, such as cyberbullying, verbal abuse, and predators, along with exposure to content which could be harmful to those under the age of 18, such as racism, sexism, violence, and substance abuse. Reviews of the HOLLA app on the Play Store highlight how frequently users were exposed to sexual imagery and inappropriate content when all they were hoping for was to chat online, and get to know new people.
How can I make HOLLA safe for my kids?
The fast answer: you can’t. There is no way to make HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat safe for anyone under the age of 18. The dangers of HOLLA outweigh the social entertainment value it might potentially offer.
By using a parental control tool, you can block access to HOLLA, so your child isn’t able to use the app in the first place. However, as parents, we know that when we outright ban or restrict our children from doing something, we may experience some resistance. This means it’s extremely important that your child understands the very real dangers behind random video chat apps like HOLLA, and understands the reasons behind your decision to restrict their access to it.
In addition, it’s a good idea to disable in-app purchases on your child’s phone – whether it’s their money or yours they’re spending, this will help them to avoid tempting purchases such as online subscriptions, loot boxes, and buying extras in freemium-style apps.
Qustodio’s final advice on HOLLA – Live Random Video Chat
If you decide to block the HOLLA app, then discuss the reasoning with your child. Inform them that it will remain blocked for their own safety, and keep the conversation open with your child about internet security and online threats. While online friendships aren’t always harmful, forming one through an app designed for over 18s is unrealistic for your child at best, and dangerous at worst.