IMVU App Guide for Parents & Educators

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November 16, 2022

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Unlock this lesson to learn what you can do to keep kids safe on IMVU

This IMVU app guide will help parents learn:

  • Why IMVU is so popular with students
  • Why parents should care about IMVU
  • Tips to keep student safe while using IMVU

Learn why parents and educators should care about IMVU

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Educator Webinar Attendee

Table of Contents

IMVU is not new, but it is one of the most popular social media platforms that relies on user-created 3D avatars to chat with other users. Even though users create and chat using anonymous avatars, parents are wondering if IMVU is safe for their students.

In this SmartSocial app guide, you will learn:

  1. What is IMVU?
  2. Why are students using this app?
  3. What are the dangers of IMVU?
  4. Tips for parents to talk to their students about this app

Parent & educator video lesson

(This parent and educator video is best to be shown to adults)

What you’ll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What is IMVU?
  2. Why should parents care?
  3. What can parents do about IMVU?
  4. Share this information!

What is IMVU?

Image from IMVU
  • IMVU is an avatar-based social media app where users create custom 3D avatars and use them to chat with strangers and it is an acronym for "instant messaging virtual universe"
  • An avatar is a graphic image representing a particular person in video games, forums, etc.
  • IMVU users can choose to join in random chat rooms or 3D Live rooms
  • “Friend Matcher” matches users with strangers based on each user’s set preferences such as seeking Friendship vs. Relationship, preferred gender, and age range
  • ~A teen account will only give the option to select matches between the ages of 13 and 17
  • ~Once matched, users can decide if they want to chat with that user or skip to another 
  • Chat rooms are online rooms where users can move their avatars around the virtual space and chat with up to 9 other users 
  • ~Anyone can create a chat room and owners can decorate the room with virtual goods
  • Live Rooms are public spaces that can hold hundreds of users that can chat back and forth
  • ~Only VIP members can create and host Live Rooms
  • Users can post text and pictures of their avatar in different poses and backgrounds
  • The app is free to download and use, but there are credits to purchase for real money and there is also a monthly VIP subscription available
  • Credits can be used to purchase new clothes, accessories, hairstyles, different avatars, poses, room decorations, or gifts for other users
IMVU promises a chance to escape from the daily grind and the opportunity to build a community with online friends. When someone joins IMVU, we offer them the chance to create their true self, to meet somebody new, to make new things, feel all the feels, and share it all. - IMVU Blog

What is IMVU rated?

IMVU logo

Apple App Store Rating: 17+

Google Play Rating: M (Mature 17+)

Also available via web browser on the IMVU website

(Owned by IMVU, sub organization of Together Labs, Redwood, CA)

Terms of Service

Privacy Policy

Examples of IMVU dangers in the news

Experts advise children to not use social networking site, IMVU
When kids have access to apps that allow them to talk with strangers in a non-secure area, you don’t know their intention. So if you don’t know somebody, you don’t know why they’re talking with you, you don’t know what their end goal is. And honestly, if an adult is going on one of these [apps] to hide their identity, they probably don’t have a great intention - Rochesterfirst.com

Why do students want to be on IMVU

Screenshot from IMVU
  • Students hear their friends talking about the app and are curious 
  • Many people use IMVU as a dating app to meet people and new, potential partners
  • Many students enjoy playing games and may find it fun to design an avatar and dress it up in different outfits
  • It can be thrilling to some students to talk with strangers
  • Because it’s an anonymous avatar, some students may feel more confident chatting with others and making new friends

What do other parents say about  IMVU

Keep away it away from your kids

I found this on my daughter's mobile apps and discovered tons of sexually explicit messages from older guys that were being sent to my 10-year-old daughter. The app is flooded with 18+ content. The chat rooms contain many sexual poses and the 3D avatars are dressed in a promiscuous way with large busts, thick thighs, big butts, and slim waists wearing tight and skimpy bikinis… It may look harmless but it is much much more dangerous than you think. - Common Sense Media parent review

Why should parents & educators care?

Screenshot from IMVU
  • There are zero parental controls built into the app
  • IMVU encourages users to chat with strangers and “create their true self,” which often encourages students to share more than they should with a stranger
  • Although IMVU’s Terms of Service state that users must be at least 13 years of age and if under 18 they must have their parent’s permission, there is no age verification to create an account
  • All profiles are public
  • There are many chat groups that blatantly advertise inappropriate content
  • This app can be used by predators to try and get victims to share their phone number, send photos, and connect via video chat off of the app
  • Bullying is often a concern on the app, and in real life, if users don’t spend real money on virtual products for their avatar
  • Chat rooms are unmoderated and it can be easy to find explicit and inappropriate content, even on accident
  • Users can buy inappropriate and suggestive clothes for their avatars and they can simulate explicit acts
  • Private messaging is available for paid VIP subscribers
  • Students under the age of 18 can interact with adult users in chat rooms
  • The app is gamified to earn credits and keep users coming back to the app to play

What can parents & educators do?

  • Download the app yourself, explore it, and decide if you think it is appropriate for your student
  • ~Ask your student to show you what they like about the app and how they use it
  • If you decide it’s appropriate, consider working with your student to turn off  notifications to decrease distractions and make sure they know how to block/report rooms and other users (see below for instructions)
  • Talk to your student about what personal information can and cannot be shared online and why this is important to always remember, even if they think they know who they are talking to
  • Encourage students to not use their real names when creating their account
  • Remind your student that not everyone online is the who they say they are in real life
  • Talk to your  student about why it’s important to never meet up with someone in person that they have only met online and to not take your conversations to other social media platforms that are more private
  • Create a Family Media Agreement WITH your student to set screen time and device rules and expectations
  • Use device parental controls to determine what apps can be downloaded and restrict purchases such as Apple Screen Time or Android Digital Wellbeing

Privacy/setting recommendations for IMVU

  • There are no true privacy settings for the IMVU app since every account is public, but it is important that students understand how to block/report other users or rooms within the app  
  • Also, consider having them turn off their notifications to decrease the risk of distractions and screen time addiction

How to report a chat room

IMVU chat room lobby
  • From within a chat room, tap on the three dots 
  • Tap “Report Room”
  • Choose a reason from the drop down menu
  • ~Inappropriate Name
  • ~Inappropriate Description
  • ~Inappropriate Image
  • Tap “Report” at the bottom

How to report a user

  • From a chat room lobby, tap on the user you want to report/block under “Occupancy”
  • The user’s profile will appear, tap the three dots
  • Tap either “Block” or “Report Profile”
  • If Blocking, tap “Block”
  • If reporting, select a reason from the drop down menu and then tap "Report"

How to turn off notifications

  • From the home screen, tap on the gear icon at the top
  • Turn “Notifications” to off

Key terms/slang about IMVU

IMVU Friend Matcher
  • Avatar - An avatar is a graphic image representing the user that you can design from their hair styles, clothes, and poses
  • Coin - Virtual currency used to buy clothes, room accessories, or gifts for other users
  • Feed - Scrollable list of other users’ posts 
  • Chat Room - Room for up to 10 users to chat 
  • Live Room - Rooms for up to 10 people to present or use voice chat, but hundreds may enter a live room to text chat and watch/listen to the 10 presenters
  • VCOIN - Currency that can be converted into cash
  • Friend Matcher - An option to match users with strangers based upon set preferences such as Friendship vs. Relationship, preferred gender, age range

Conclusion

There are many apps available today for students to chat online with strangers.  IMVU is targeted toward adults, contains a lot of mature content, and is not appropriate for students.  

Additional Resources

If your student wants to create their own avatar, but you don't want them to communicate with others, visit: Bitmoji App: Guide for Parents & Educators

If you are interested in learning more about anonymous social media apps visit: What are “Anonymous” Social Media Apps?: What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

To learn more about online chat apps visit: Chatting with Strangers (Discord and other Chat Apps)


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