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About Airtime: Group video messaging
In-App Purchases
None
Rating
Everyone

What is Airtime: Group video messaging?

Airtime is a flexible group video chat app similar to Facetime, but with a number of additional social features.

Users can video chat in groups of six or less, or exchange text-based messages with up to 250 other users at a time.  

What sets Airtime apart from other video chat clients is the way it facilitates sharing user-generated content.  Videos and music from popular media platforms, including YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify, can be imported directly into the chat and simultaneously shared between the group.

Recent versions of the Airtime app extend this reach even further, with the ability to stream an Airtime chat session into Facebook Live.

Likewise, information and media from the user's phone, such as images, videos, and location data, can be shared through the Airtime app.

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Is Airtime: Group video messaging safe for my kids?

Airtime is rated E for Everyone, but the app is not safe for children. Private use of the Airtime app may only be appropriate for older teens who are able to engage maturely with adult content and situations.

What makes Airtime inappropriate for younger children is its seamless sharing of user-generated content from unrestricted areas of the Internet. While the ability to find and share content from anywhere is a big part of Airtime's appeal, it also makes it practically impossible to guarantee a shared standard of age-appropriate content.

This is a common problem with group social apps, especially those which are effectively unmoderated. Standards of appropriate content and conduct vary widely between households, making consistency difficult in small groups. Add Airtime's ability to draw user-generated content from anywhere, while broadcasting chats back into many of those same platforms, and effective parental control becomes increasingly difficult to maintain.

Some parents report effective control over safe use of the Airtime app by directly approving all of their child's contacts, limiting them to people with shared community standards of online conduct. This is easily circumvented by older children, however, and should be subject to verification.

Airtime requires a mobile number for registration and doesn't facilitate anonymous social interaction to the same degree as other social apps, like After School. This can help avoid some of the worst aspects of unmoderated online communities– cyberbullying, harassment, and trolling – by making it easier to hold specific users accountable for their behavior.

Airtime's association with a specific user's phone can create privacy concerns, on the other hand, by facilitating direct sharing of media and other data from the user's mobile phone. This may include location data, which could be used to target unwary users for in-person harassment.

Airtime is only appropriate for teens who have established trust in their ability to independently handle mature content and situations online.

Before installing Airtime, it may help to check in with your child to ensure they can:

  • Process challenging content maturely.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to toxic online behavior.
  • Understand and take responsibility for safeguarding their online privacy.
  • Disengage confidently if an interaction makes them uncomfortable.
  • Alert parents and appropriate authorities if an Airtime user makes them feel unsafe.

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