Chatting With Strangers: Bark Now Monitors HOLLA
*As of Feb. 5, 2020, the HOLLA app is no longer available in the App Store. But if your child has an Android device or installed the app when it was still available in the App Store, they’re potentially at risk of encountering these dangers.*
Bark now monitors the HOLLA app for signs of digital dangers. This app has become very popular among kids, allowing them to have text conversations — as well as live voice and video calls — with people all over the world. While meeting strangers online and learning about their interests might sound fun to your child, parents should be advised that there’s plenty about the app that is cause for concern.
Although we’re not yet able to monitor voice or video calls on HOLLA, Bark detects potential issues within text chats on Android devices to help protect your child online. From sexual content to online predators, here’s what you need to know about the HOLLA app.
What is the HOLLA App?
As a self-described “live random video chat” app, HOLLA pairs strangers from around the world and allows them to talk to each other. By swiping left or right on user profiles (thanks, Tinder), you can either accept or decline live chats with other users. If you both swipe right, you’re a “match,” and from there you can connect via text chat, voice call, or live video call. HOLLA is also a “freemium” platform, meaning it’s free to download and use, but you can get additional features with a HOLLA Prime subscription.
HOLLA is rated 17+, but there’s nothing to stop younger kids from putting in older ages in order to create an account. Profiles consist of a kid’s age, location, gender, several pictures, and a short blurb sharing their interests or other personal information. Most users have to rely on photos to decide whether to swipe left or right, but Prime subscribers can access full profiles. Users can rate their conversations, and if they want to chat again they can add each other to their “Friends” list.
Is HOLLA Safe for Kids?
One of the biggest issues on HOLLA is that kids are at risk of encountering sexual content. While the app promises to foster connection, there’s almost no way to control who you connect with — or what they show you. Many users have reported that people they’ve matched with exposed themselves on camera without the user’s permission.
The risks kids face on HOLLA don’t end there. Common Sense Media reviews the app in this way: “If sex traffickers and online predators described the perfect social media app, this would be it. This app flies in the face of parents’ ‘stranger danger’ philosophy, encouraging users to expose their names, faces, ages, and locations to strangers around the world.” Making matters worse, HOLLA has a “Nearby” feature that filters users by location. Online predators can take advantage of this feature by trying to meet with children in real life.
Parents need to be aware of these risks so they can help keep their kids safe online. Bark is currently unable to monitor live voice and video calls on the HOLLA app, but our award-winning technology monitors text chats on Android devices for signs of cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, threats of violence, and more. Bark can also notify you when your child downloads a new app to give you greater insights into their online activities. Sign up today for a free, one-week trial!