Have you heard of the Hoop app? There is a good chance that your children have and that they may have already downloaded it. The app is being described as a “Tinder for Teens.”
Common Sense Media described it this way: “Teens link their Snap profiles and enter personal details (age and gender) and choose a few pictures to feature. Then they review images of other users, choosing to “X” those they are not interested in or requesting Snap info for those they are. On the flip side, others are reviewing their profile and sending requests to add them on Snap as well.”
As of February 2020, the new app already had over 3 million downloads and it hit #2 in the App Store.
Hoop allows kids as young as 12 to form connections complete strangers. Adults are able to use the app, but Hoop claims that users over 18 won’t be shown kids’ profiles and vice versa. The user swipes through profiles that include the person’s age, gender, and photos. Users can identify who they want to begin a conversation with based in these criteria. Then, they can request that person’s Snapchat handle by tapping a button to continue the conversation.
Hoop encourages frequent use and compels you to log in and engage each day in order to continue chatting. For example, on Tinder you can “swipe right” up to 100 times each day, but on Hoop, you’re required to use in-app “diamonds” to request chat and you’re only allowed to send 10 requests before needing to obtain more. Like many apps for younger crowds, it becomes a bit addicting.
According to Protect Young Eyes, “Teens earn points for logging in daily, sharing their Snap name, getting Snapchat friends to join Hoop, and taking surveys. And, since you can’t connect with people to learn their Snap username without ‘paying’ with points, there’s a steady, addictive tug to keep performing certain in-app activities in order to earn more points.” This “pay to play” system makes it easy for kids to feel invested in the platform, but it also makes it hard for them to disconnect without feeling like they’re losing out on some part of their social lives.”
Project B3 thinks that Hoop is definitely an app for you to discuss with your children, ASAP. Decide as a family whether or not you are comfortable with the preteens and teens in your home using this app. There are privacy concerns, issues with meeting strangers (who may or may not be trustworthy) and the simple question of whether or not this is how you want your kid’s “meeting new people” or “dating.”