Wink App Connects Kids to Strangers

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Wink App Connects Kids to Strangers

September 28, 2020
Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
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Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Table of Contents

The Wink app connects users with people they don’t know. It’s designed to work like popular dating apps, where users swipe through profiles to discover new people. Once connected, Wink "friends" can chat in the app or click a button to connect on Snapchat.

This app guide for parents, students, and teachers explains how Wink works and why it’s dangerous for tweens and teens.

What is the Wink app?

Wink app profile example
Example of a teen's profile on the Wink app
  • Wink is a social network that allows strangers from around the world to connect
  • Users find new “friends” by swiping through profiles, like the popular adult dating app, Tinder
  • Once on a profile: they can swipe down to see pictures and profile details, swipe right to connect with the person or swipe left to move on to the next profile
  • Users can click a button to add new Wink friends to their Snapchat, or can they chat directly on Wink
  • Users must be at least 13 with parental permission to use Wink, according to the Terms of Service

Why do teens like Wink?

Child profile on Wink app
Wink users must be at least 13 & have parental permission (but there's no verification)
  • The app makes it easy to make new online connections
  • Wink marketing says “ The more new friends you make and add to Snap, the more views you get on your Snapchat story. You could go from 50 to 500 people watching!”
  • The app is gamified and users must earn points to continue adding new friends on Wink
  • You can earn points/gems: 
  • every time you check in on the app, share a Snap, refer a friend, etc.
  • There is a daily leaderboard that shows who earns the most points
  • Users select an age range and gender for the people they want to connect with

Where is the Wink app available?

Wink app in the news

Envening Telegram headline: Girls as young as nine asked to send naked photos by predator on 'childlike' phone app
[One mom says her 11 and 9 year-old daughters] were subjected to ‘vile’ content from a perverted stranger… ‘Despite parental filters the girls were able to get on to Wink… A sexual predator actually ended up messaging them directly and asking to see them naked,’ she explained. Evening Telegraph

Why should parents care?

Wink app points
Wink app users must earn  points to make new "friends"
  • Profiles show a user’s name, photos, age, and country
  • There is no option to make a profile private
  • There is also no age verification, so kids under 13 could easily use the app and set their age to over 18 to meet adults. Also, adults could easily pose as teens to connect with young users
  • Although Wink’s website says the company has a 24/7 moderation team and uses technology to scan all images sent through the app for ‘nudity, violence and gore,’ it’s easy to find inappropriate photos while swiping through profiles
  • The app encourages users to use Wink every day to earn more points/gemsusers can only connect with new friends if they have earned enough points)

What can parents do?

Wink app settings
Settings in Wink app
  • Download the app and use it yourself before deciding if it’s appropriate for your family
  • Talk with your tweens and teens about the dangers of chatting with people online who they don’t know in real life
  • Teach teens they can report inappropriate behavior in the Wink app by tapping the “...” icon and using the report function or emailing support@getwinkapp.com
  • Remind your child they can always come to you or a trusted adult if anyone ever makes them feel uncomfortable online
  • Explain that the images and info they put on their Wink app profile is public, so they should never share personal information
  • Monitor your child’s phone usage and consider using a Parental Control software as an added layer of security
  • Talk to your kids about the types of apps they’re allowed to use and for younger students, consider requiring your permission before they’re allowed to download a new app

Conclusion

If you don’t want your tween or teen to chat with strangers online, they shouldn’t use the Wink app. Despite the age settings and safety features on the app, students can easily access unsuitable content and older strangers with ulterior motives.

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