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App icon for Zoom

Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing app, designed for business use, which has become popular with individuals and schools as a way to keep in touch when they can’t meet in person. The free version lets up to 100 participants video chat but ends meetings of three or more people after 40 minutes.

16+

Official age rating

At a glance

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Expert view of the risks...

Sexual

Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip

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Explore the privacy settings

It's best to supervise your child while they're using Zoom and explore the privacy settings so they work for your family.

What you should know

 

Zoom is designed for business and education

 

Zoom was originally designed to be used by businesses for conference calls and has some features that you might not find on other video chat apps, like screen sharing and recording. It’s not been designed to be used by children and young people outside of education, so we recommend young people are supervised when using it. If you do decide to let your child use it, make sure to read our top tips for staying safe.

 

Schools might use Zoom for remote learning

 

Zoom for Education has been designed for virtual learning between teachers and students and is very similar to the regular Zoom. Zoom for Education might be used to teach children remotely, so it’s important to make sure that teachers and parents are supervising children at all times and that video chats are secure as possible. You can find out more about Zoom for Education on their website and tips for staying safe on Zoom below.

 

Other things to be aware of:

 

Meeting hosts and co-hosts have easy access to Zoom’s security features in their menu bar. By clicking the Security Icon, you can:

  • lock the meeting
  • enable the waiting room (this should already be enabled but can be disabled and enabled again)
  • remove participants
  • restrict participants’ ability to share their screens, chat in a meeting, rename themselves or add annotations to what the host is sharing.

Read Zoom’s Security Icon guidance for more information. 

Zoom lets you share what’s on your screen with the people you’re chatting to, which means your child could be shown something inappropriate, so we recommend supervising your child if they’re using the app. There’s also a feature where only the host (the person who set the call up) can share their screen, which you can turn on when setting up a call.

Zoom also lets hosts record meetings, so it’s important to talk to your child about what they’re sharing while chatting. Remind them not to share personal information, like their name and phone number, or private parts of their body.

‘Zoombombing’ is when somebody uninvited joins a call to disrupt it, which can happen when links are shared publicly. All meetings require the host to approve letting people join. The host can choose to let people in individually or all at once. The Waiting Room feature is on by default, and if turned off, can be turned back on during the meeting. To avoid uninvited guests, we advise that your child keeps the Waiting Room feature on at all times.

 

Top tips for staying safe

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why.

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’t give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

All meetings on Zoom are now automatically password protected and have ‘waiting rooms’ enabled.

Every Zoom meeting has a nine-digit ID code that gives you access to the call, which also appears in the meeting link. The password protection means you need a password to enter the meeting, even if you already have the ID code. But those who enter using a link will not need to enter the password. It’s important to remind your child not to share Zoom links with anybody other than their friends. They shouldn’t share them on social media, in game chats or on group chats.

The best way to keep video calls just between friends or family is to ensure every meeting has a different password. Show your child how to do this and remind them to be careful with who they share the password with.

The waiting room lets the host selectively admit people who are waiting to enter the video call, if they don’t recognise someone they can choose not to let them in. Remind your child not to let anybody into a chat that they don’t know.

Check out Zoom’s website for information on setting up a password and waiting rooms.

Zoom lets you screen share during video calls and add virtual backgrounds (images that appear behind each person). You can also change your name. This could lead to people sharing words, images or videos that your child might find upsetting or inappropriate. If you’re the host, when setting up the call, you can select that that only the host can screen share and that virtual backgrounds are switched off. You can also restrict participants' ability to change their names.

However, this only works if you’re the host. When your child is chatting with friends, make sure you’re supervising them to make sure backgrounds are appropriate and talk to your child about what they’re sharing. We also recommend speaking with the other parents to make sure safety features are set up. (And the same goes for teachers!) Screen sharing and virtual backgrounds can be fun if used correctly and with supervision.

Zoom also has some helpful information on their website about how to manage participants in a meeting.

As well as being able to video chat, Zoom also has a text chat feature within calls. You can send a written message to the entire group or to individual people on the call.

This feature isn’t immediately obvious and some parents might not see this feature while they’re supervising their child. It’s important to be aware of the text chat as children could still be sent something upsetting or inappropriate here.

If you’re the host, you can choose who the other people can chat with or disable the feature altogether.

Check out Zoom’s website for information on controlling and disabling in-meeting chat, as well as how and where chat histories are stored.

Zoom has a lot of different settings and controls, some of which are intended for businesses but some may be useful to you as well.

Zoom has helpful information on all of their settings and controls, which we recommend exploring with your child before anybody uses the app.

But you might want to begin with Zoom’s advice on getting started, including setting it up securely on your desktop and mobile.

It’s important your child knows they can talk to you if something worries them on any app, site or game. Because Zoom is made for businesses, there aren’t reporting or blocking tools like you get on a lot of other video chat apps. So, it’s important your child knows they can come to you if they see anything upsetting or negative. Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

And if they feel like they can’t speak to you, tell them to talk to an adult they trust, like a teacher or Childline.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

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