What Is Clubhouse? Here's How the New Audio-Only App Can Benefit Parents

Love it or loathe it, social media has been a saving grace for parents seeking support and community during the pandemic. Now, an audio-only social app called Clubhouse is helping parents connect.

An image of the Clubhouse app on a colored background.
Photo: Art: Jillian Sellers.

In a time of social distancing, social media has never felt like more more of a life raft—especially for parents. Moms on Facebook are sharing the trials and tribulations of juggling babies and work responsibilities at home. Dads on Instagram are sharing their gripes about distancing learning. Celebs are doing TikTok dances with their kids. And now there's a new app in town: Clubhouse, an exclusive, audio-only social media platform that's getting massive buzz.

Here's what the app is and how it could benefit parents who are feeling isolated and in need of more support right now.

What Is the Clubhouse App?

If you've ever been to a conference, you know you can wander the halls, dip in and out of various seminars going on all at once, make a plan to see a specific panel, or have a casual chat with other attendees over coffee. Imagine that scenario playing out on a social media app, and you've got Clubhouse. It's also been compared to a live, unfiltered podcast.

The company, developed by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, describes itself as a "new type of social project based on voice" where "people everywhere (can) talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people."

Basically, you log in and can enter various "rooms" where live discussions are happening on a bevy of topics from entrepreneurship to creativity to day-to-day life. There are even basic meet-and-greets and tutorials on how to make the most of the app. Some rooms feel like a presentation, others a show where you're invited up to the stage to speak when it's your turn, and smaller rooms might present an opportunity to have a free-flowing conversation among everyone present.

You can create your own room or join rooms that are currently in session. You'll be able to follow other users and see the rooms they're in and be pinged into a room by a connection.

How to Join Clubhouse

According to the New York Times, the iOS-only app had 600,000 users in December 2020. (By comparison, Facebook has 2.7 billion users and Twitter has 330 million.)

It's gaining users by the day, but the company's goal is for it to grow slowly. A company statement, the company is "building Clubhouse for everyone and working to make it available to the world as quickly as possible."

Right now, the only way to join Clubhouse is to be invited by an existing user, so hit up your most social media-savvy friends. In the meantime, if you have an iPhone, you can download the app and reserve a username without an invitation. This will put you on a waitlist to join the app. Once on the waitlist, you'll still have to wait to access the app until you get an invitation, but being in line may up your chances of getting let in sooner. Members have a limited amount of invites they are allowed to give out, but rumor has it that if you get on the waitlist, members may be able to let you in from there even if they are out of their allotted invites. While we can't say for sure it's true, it's worth a shot!

How Parents Could Benefit From the App

As more parents find their way onto Clubhouse, they'll find even more rooms in which they can trade notes about parenthood and make supportive new connections.

For instance, LaShana Stephens, a relationship/mom coach, recently started a room as an extension of her podcast "Maintaining the Me in Marriage and Motherhood." "I am promoting real conversations about the highs and lows of marriage and motherhood, juggling career and autonomy, etc.," she says, elaborating that she's covered topics like "Mom Mistakes," "Self-Care for Moms and Dads," and "What is Having It All."

Members of her room have described Stephens' room as a safe space where "conversation is real and authentic and relatable." According to Stephens, one of her attendees shared, "I resonate with parents who don't have it all together but have things that work well. I like hearing the truth and helpful tips. And I also enjoy the laughable moments. It feels like old friends having dinner! The diverse backgrounds make it refreshing."

Julia Dennison, a mom of one in Queens and Digital Content Director of Parents.com, has found that she loves the vibe of the app—especially "as a single mom in a pandemic who cherishes any interaction I can get." She notes that the app feels like an easy, low-lift way for moms and dads to have important conversations. Plus, it can serve to address loneliness, which is more prevalent than ever.

"Parenthood can be so isolating and sometimes we don't even have a free hand to text a friend," says Dennison. "In Clubhouse, it's as easy as unmuting your phone and all of a sudden you can get so much off your chest and find other moms who are in a similar situation to you. And boom, you feel less alone."

No matter how you identify yourself—working parent, someone in need of a happy hour outlet, an aspiring parent entrepreneur—there are targeted rooms popping up every day. "I think the number of great rooms for moms and dads will just flourish and grow over the next few months," says Dennison. "I can't wait to see what kind of conversations I have. It's a movement."

Another perk that Dennison notes was celebrated by Chrissy Teigen while participating in her first Clubhouse room: Unlike a Zoom meet-up, Clubhouse is 100 percent audio-based, so you don't have to get dolled up. Dennison agrees, noting, "You can literally rock up in your sweatpants. Heck, I moderated a panel from the bath."

Bottom Line

Clubhouse could prove to offer parents an unfiltered outlet for hearing others and being heard. "I like the friendliness and camaraderie," says Dennison. "People come on as themselves, with their own voices, and that makes it pretty hard to be mean. It just ends up being a lot of lifting up and supporting each other."

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