Wishbone App – What parents need to know

By Dr Tamasine Preece on

To help parents who’ve raised concerns that their children are receiving unsolicited messages on wishbone app, we’ve compile expert tips on how to keep them safe on the app.

About the App

Launched in 2015 Wishbone describes itself as “the go-to for comparing anything your heart desires,” with over 3.1  million active monthly users globally. It is targeted at and is particularly popular with, teenage girls.

What is the Wishbone’s Minimum age?

The Terms and Conditions don’t clearly specify but according to Common Sense Media 15+ would be recommended.

How does it work?

Creating an account

It is possible to log in using other social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram but, if you choose not to, the site gives you a username and you begin acquiring followers straight away.

What can you do on the app?

Users are presented with two ‘cards’ and are asked to choose a preference. Users are also able to produce their own cards for others to select their preference. Some of the cards can include revealing outfits and there can be the incidence of inappropriate language in some of the comments that can be written underneath a card and on the user-generated cards.

How safe is the Wishbone app?

In terms of safety, users are able to write comments underneath cards or, in the case that two users follow one another, send other users a direct message using a facility which is very similar to a chat room. Some users have generated cards including images of people that they know for other site users to select the prettiest or hottest.

Users of Wishbone are invited to create a public profile and bio. Whilst it is possible to use the app without revealing any personal information, in choosing to link the app to other social media accounts, it is possible for Wishbone to accumulate a large amount of personal information from users. This profile of the user is then widened by their expressed preferences whilst using the app. Users are then exposed to a high volume of targeted advertising.

Concerns about the app

Security breach on app: In March 2017 the app was hacked and millions of users personal information was circulated on the internet

Cyberbullying: As it is a comparison tool, children could use it to compare each other and incite cyberbullying on the app.

Online grooming: There is the potential risk of online grooming as adult users could target younger users and take advantage of their trust.

Data collection: If a child connects their Facebook or Twitter account to the app, it will collect information about their friends and those they have in common with on the Wishbone app.

Private Messages: User can send private messages to each other if they follow each other so it’s important to make sure teens only follow ‘real friends’ rather than people they have never met.

Why do teens love the app?

It offers teens an escape and could be considered like reading a magazine while you are waiting for an appointment. Most of the content is centred around popular celebrities and fashion.

What do other parents say about the app?

According to the Common Sense Media site, many parents have concerns about the direct messaging functionality that enables teens can speak to people they don’t know in real life in without any restrictions or safeguards in place. See full comments from parents.

Safety features 

Reporting content 

You can report content that may be upsetting or inappropriate on the app by simply selecting the three dots on the top right side of the app and selecting report.

Blocking users 

To block a user, simply navigate to the user’s page and select the three dots on the top right side of the app and click ‘Block user’.

Click on the three dots

Choose from options

Select reason for reporting

4 things you can do to keep them safe on the app

1. Talk to them about online risks and sharing safety

Help your child understand how to deal with different online risks that they may be exposed to on the app such as cyberbullying or inappropriate content. Give them the tools to recognise the difference between ‘real friends and followers. See our expert social tips to help start the conversation.

2. Make sure they are Share Aware

Help them to think more carefully about what they post and who it may be seen by so that they protect themselves.

3. Check minimum age of app

Check that your child is the minimum age required to be on the app as content will be aimed at children over 13 years old.

4. Protect their personal data 

Advise your child not to link the app to their other social account so it does not pull in personal information into their  Wishbone account and draw information about their friends. Also, make sure they choose an anonymous username and a strong password to protect their content.

More to explore

If you’d like to learn more about the Wishbone app and other similar apps, here are some places you can visit:

See what parents say about Wishbone

Wishbone guide for parents from Safe Smart Social

Social media tips for parents