What parents need to know about Wink

Wink’s description on the App Store and Google Play does state that the networking app  “is for friendships only”, although more worldly readers may consider that a rather feeble deterrent. The app launched in 2020, and there has already been at least one criminal trial resulting from an adult meeting up with a minor who they befriended through Wink.

The app requires users to be at least 13 – but with an absence of effective age verification, there is nothing to stop someone younger from simply entering a fake date of birth. Children occasionally connect with strangers online simply to increase their friend count, which is just one of potential risks highlighted in our NOS guide to Wink.

Wink sets ‘appropriate content’ guidelines (no pics in underwear or topless mirror selfies, for example) and claims to monitor this with “a combination of technology and 24/7 human moderation”. Many profiles on the app, however, do display images of that nature, and ‘sextortion’ (scammers demanding money to stop explicit pictures of the victim being released publicly) still poses a problem. A related worry is that the abundance of suggestive profile pictures could easily convince a child that this is an acceptable tactic to follow: especially if they’re seeking to boost their popularity on the app. This week’s NOS guide has useful guidance for parents and carers who may be concerned about their child’s use of Wink.