GREENSBORO, N.C. — On Youtube, some popular content creators have dubbed the Wink app from Snapchat "Tinder for teens." Before you download the app, the description says it's for people 12 plus and "p.s. Wink is for friendships only." There are lots of videos online by users telling other kids how to find a boyfriend or girlfriend on Wink.
So, 2 Wants To Know downloaded the app just to see what safeguards they had to protect kids. Here's the most interesting part for us: The app asks for your age, but there's no verification of it. Some creeper could easily put in that they are a teen and start talking with under-aged kids.
Reporter Ben Briscoe put in his real age to look around a little more. There were no nude pictures or really anything vulgar, but there were a few things that might be crossing the line of being able to show it on T.V.
We reached out to Wink and they sent the following statement:
The safety of our users is one of our top priorities. We take safety into consideration in the sign-up process, having profile preferences, profile verification, using technological scanning, a 24/7 real-life moderation team, and encouraging users to report anything that doesn’t look right. In addition, we publish safety guides for both parents and teens.
We are also continually working on improving our safety features. You can find more details on our safety policies and practices on our Safety page at https://www.getwinkapp.com/safety/.
The terms of service also say, "we have zero tolerance for predatory behavior on Wink, and we will report any discovered violation of the prohibition on child pornography or other instances of child exploitation."
Social media experts say it's a good idea to talk with your kids about what they are downloading.
“If you just allow your child to download any type of app and never have a conversation with them, they never know what security measures to take to protect themselves,” said Rubyth Renteria, director of community education for the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Parents like Courtney Burlison, a mom of three girls ages 9 to 13, are finding new ways to control what their kids do online.
“We want to be responsible about the amount of information our kids are receiving and the people we're letting in their lives,” she said.
Using Apple’s free Family Sharing feature, Courtney and her husband receive an alert when one of their daughters attempts to download an app. Mom or Dad must approve the app using their fingerprint or password before it will install.
“I get an explanation from my child about what she thinks the app is and I go look it up and do my own research before deciding to approve it,” explained Burlison.
She also uses Mobicip, an internet filter. It allows her to track her daughters’ online activity and select the websites they can visit using categories and keywords.
“That enables me to go in and set up different restrictions for each child depending on where I feel like they are with technology,” Burlison said.
According to Renteria, that type of vigilance is one key to keeping your kids safe online.
“We’ve had a couple of stories of online solicitation of minors,” she said. “It can happen in the smallest town to the biggest town.”