Teen sitting at a desk wearing a headset.

IMVU Is Resurging in Popularity, but 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 in 2020. 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 IMVU?

  • 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.

Should Parents Be Concerned About 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.

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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