What Parents Need to Know About FriendO
FriendO is a new app that gamifies friendship. And before you think you can click away because surely this app won’t have any appeal for your teen, let me share some stats with you.
FriendO gathered 2.4 million players in their first six months of operation. The idea of gamifying friendships is popular with our teens and tweens. FriendO makes it a game to find out which of your friends knows you the best. Then it gives you the opportunity to find out what they think of you.
It’s not an anonymous app; but, it does give users the ability to ask and answer questions through a device. In other words, you’re not really saying something to your friend’s face. The idea from the developer is that it gives users the ability to get to know each other better. Is that what happens, though? Or does the app cause more harm than good?
What Parents Need to Know About FriendO
What is FriendO?
FriendO is one of many social media apps we’re seeing. It is considered a social media app, that’s not a misclassification. But, it’s not a social media platform in the way many adults would think. FriendO is also a blend of an anonymous app and a polling app. With FriendO you can answer fun questions about yourself, send them to your friends, and see how well they know you. The more questions you answer correctly about each other, the better FriendOs you become!
There are questions for a variety of categories like “My Sports” and “What I Watch.” There are also categories NSFW like “Dirty” and “Dating.” Some of these categories and their content are locked behind a 17+ age filter. However, there is no true age verification process. You simply receive a message asking if you are under 17 or 17+.
What is the age requirement for FriendO?
According to FriendO’s Terms of Service, users must be at least thirteen (13) years old to use the service. Minor children (users 13 but younger than 18 years of age) must have parental consent before registering for an account and parents of those minors must also accept the TOS on their behalf.
What do I do if my teen under 17 opens a FriendO account without my permission?
There is an important clause in the age requirement terms above. It states minors must have parental consent. Parents, this is important. It means if your child sets up a FriendO account without your permission or knowledge you have the right to have that account removed and deleted. To do so, email email@example.com.
Follow up by talking to your teen about the technology rules for your family. It’s not going to be an easy conversation. But, it’s going to be important to keep talking to your teen so they don’t pull away, dig in their heels, and hide all online activity from you. That’s the exact opposite of what you want. So continue to talk and listen to your teen…even when it’s tough.
What Type of Content Can Users Expect to See on FriendO?
Honestly, the content is dependent upon the user and their circle of friends. That sounds a bit flaky, but it’s the truth. I’ve spoken with parents whose teens use it and love it. Other than it being somewhat of a time waster, the questions have all been simple, “What’s your favorite season” and “Do you like ketchup, mustard, or mayo.”
I’ve spoken with other parents who were surprised to see questions asking what type of alcohol their teen liked best or who the cutest girl/guy was. You should know there are categories for 17+ available. And, there is no real age verification process to access those questions. It’s basically the honor system.
Can You Block or Report Inappropriate Content and Users?
Yes! Users can block people, ignore requests from strangers to play, and use the option to turn off location services. All of these are great safety features and ones I wish other apps would set by default.
Are In-App Purchases Available?
Why Do Teens Want to Download FriendO?
Teens love polling apps. It’s a fun way to ask and answer questions. Our kids interact with each other online; it’s natural for them. So, connecting via an app to learn more about their friends is a normal part of how our kids communicate.
What Are the Biggest Concerns to Discuss with Teens About FriendO?
FriendO has direct messaging. Let your teen know this is a feature in the app. They can avoid getting messages from strangers by only playing with people they know. Be sure your teen knows how to block and report a user should they need to do so.
FriendO has NSFW content. This content is for 17+ but there is no real verification process. You’ll want to discuss the types of questions they ask and answer on FriendO. Here are a few questions to ask your teen:
- What types of questions are their friends asking?
- What questions do they ask their friends?
- Are they questions they’d ask them face to face?
- Are they appropriate?
Finally, ask your teen if they feel added pressure to make the FriendO board. The gamification built into FriendO can cause teens to struggle with feelings of insecurity. Ranking friendships can make them feel unpopular or uncool.
Should I Let My Teen Download FriendO?
I try hard to give parents a hard yes or no when it comes to apps. Apps are tools. And, I realize every family is different. I will offer these final thoughts. FriendO does attempt to prevent bullying and stalking by limiting profile information. However, it is still possible to set up a fake account. It’s also easy to access racy and downright raunchy questions.
We need to be teaching our teens to rise above, to talk respectfully to each other, and to expect others to talk respectfully to them. Apps which encourage questions that are demeaning in any way should be discouraged or at least downloaded with oversight and extreme caution.
Has your teen used FriendO? If so, feel free to share your experience with us.