Teen sitting at a desk wearing a headset.

What is IMVU, and Is It Safe for Your Teen?

by Screen Time Team on 11/11/2020

While online multiplayer games are enjoying more popularity than ever, they’ve been around for decades. One, in particular, called IMVU, is seeing a return to prominence since 2020 when the pandemic forced many social interactions to move online / virtual. The app is popular due to its ability to connect users from anywhere in the world, but parents should be aware of the potential dangers of letting their children use IMVU. Here’s what you need to know about this unusual mix of a video game and social network, and how to manage it with parental control software.

What Is the IMVU App?

  • First available in 2004, IMVU is a virtual world that’s probably best seen as a fashion game crossed with a chat app. Users can either design and release or purchase a 3D avatar with various characteristics and features.  
  • You can also buy virtual landscapes and rooms with furniture. These are bought with credits, which can be earned by doing various tasks like peer-reviewing game items or watching ads, or purchased in the game’s menu or via gift cards.
  • In theory, users can make money by developing and releasing fashion items. This is fairly unlikely, however, for most users.
  • The game currently has about six million users, at varying levels of engagement, and is largely a place to hang out for users, with no real “goals” or other gamification features. The focus is really on social engagement and chatting, although users can do things like dance, as well.
  • IMVU is available on web browsers, Android devices, and iOS devices.
  • The game has its own economy, and items run from .99 to $199.99 in actual currency.

Is IMVU Safe for Kids?

Generally speaking, IMVU is not the safest place for children and young teens to spend their time online. There are multiple reasons parents may want their child to steer clear of this app:

  • Much of the user base is older, and the overall design of the game promotes flirtation and sexuality. 
  • Due to the public nature of “Chat Now” and Chat Rooms, kids are constantly interacting with strangers and may easily be susceptible to online predators. 
  • Another concern is the ability to spend money in-game on purchases like fashion, rooms, and gifts for other players
  • The game can be addictive due to the ability to earn/spend credits on purchases, and the ability to like / receive likes on player profiles

Should I Let My Child/Teen Use IMVU?

Teen sitting at a desk with headphones and mic.

IMVU is something of a Wild West where everything is for sale. 

It does, however, send some rather clear signals that it’s not really for kids, even though anyone 13 and up can sign up for an account with the service. 

For example, players can verify their ages, provided they buy a token, and send a photo of their ID and a selfie of themselves holding it to the company. Adults 18 and over can buy an “Access Pass” that lets them into exclusive rooms and spaces, as well.

If kids want to be on the service, set a few rules and precautions in place.

  • Use operating system level parental controls to block in-app purchases, and use parental control software to limit both purchases and downloads while setting a strict schedule.
  • Set times kids can use the software, as part of the larger screen time rules your family sets up.
  • Discuss cyberbullying, misbehavior, and other issues with your kids in detail before they begin using the app. They should also understand online grooming and identity theft, and what to do in order to avoid and report it.
  • Talk with them regularly about what they’re doing in the app. If they want to purchase something, use it as an opportunity to get engaged, scroll through the items, and talk about which ones they want and why.

Install Parental Controls to Block IMVU and Other Dangerous Apps

Managing social chat apps like IMVU can be a challenge, especially when they involve in-app purchases and global audiences. Parental control software can help manage it. To learn more, try it for free!

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