Schools warn North-east parents after children targeted on phone app

Police are investigating reports an adult had an inappropriate video conversation with several North-east children using a mobile phone app.

The incident came to the attention of senior staff at four schools in the city, who have written to parents urging them to make their children aware of online dangers.

According to one parent, several children had downloaded the Houseparty social media app, which allows users to add friends and chat to them over video.

Multiple people can join in a conversation at once and it has been claimed that children have been added to video chats with adults they do not know.

Police Scotland is looking into a claim that one adult behaved inappropriately towards children during a conversation.

Officers investigating the report did not provide details of the nature of the allegation.

However, Sergeant Stuart Hillman confirmed: “We have received a report in relation to a social media app.”

He added: “Inquiries are ongoing and we would encourage anyone with information or concerns to report these to police on 101 using reference 1251 on January 18.”

The report has prompted Oldmachar Academy, Glashieburn School, Danestone School and Middleton Park School – all in the Bridge of Don and Danestone area – to write to parents.

A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council said: “A number of schools were made aware on Thursday afternoon of a number of concerns raised about this app by parents and pupils.

“Police Scotland were immediately informed and are investigating the matter.

“A letter has been sent to parents whose children attend the schools encouraging them to talk to their children about safe social media usage.

“Our internet safety message has always been that young people should only establish online friendships with people they know.

“We are also proactive in offering training for staff and parents on how to help ensure that children use social media safely and we will continue to offer this training.”

A Houseparty trust and safety spokesman said: “We 100% agree with the council that young people should only establish online connections with people they know.

“In fact, our app has been built to do just that.

“Houseparty is designed to be used among people who know one another in real life, and there are multiple safeguards in place to ensure that video chats can only be initiated by users who have mutually accepted one another’s friendship.

“Houseparty is committed to creating a safe and respectful community and we always encourage users to share their feedback and report any concerns.”