In our recent workshops a few of the girls mentioned that they were using a new app called Monkey to chat to other teenagers across… Read More
In our recent workshops a few of the girls mentioned that they were using a new app called Monkey to chat to other teenagers across the world.
According to the app’s creators, Monkey is: “The new hangout spot for Gen Z where genuine face-to-face conversations are being fostered, instead of chasing brief and shallow social exchanges like collecting likes on Instagram.”
I liked the sound of this but decided to try it myself in order to give parents an unbiased review of the app.
Let’s start with the age restriction. The AppStore rated it as 12+, I would argue this is too young. I only needed my mobile number to log in and my age was not verified. I posed as a 15-year-old girl and used the username MelCutie. I said I was from South Africa. Monkey is relying on the accuracy of the age the person is entering into the platform when signing up. This can obviously be exploited the way I exploited it, by any creep and his dog.
The app takes users through its community rules which promotes user safety and a positive experience before pairing you up with random users from across the globe for a 15 second video chat. After the 15 seconds you can chose to prolong the chat or switch to the DM facility on the app.
I was given a few options of people to be paired with and agreed on a pairing with a 17-year-old guy from the Netherlands. As soon as the screen opened I could see he was not 17 years old. He was shirtless and in bed with a joint and probably in his mid-twenties. He had a big chest tattoo and seemed friendly enough. He asked about the weather in South Africa and said that it was freezing in the Netherlands, but I had seen enough and ended the call.
By going on Monkey your llama is sharing 3 types of information: profile information (name, profile picture, date of birth), user contributed content (the photos, texts, videos, and screen shots shared with other users), and automatic information (browser, I.P. address). This is the privacy statement Monkey.cool released: Due to the inherent nature of the internet and related technology, we do not guarantee the protection of information under our control against loss, misuse, or alteration. This means that the app can’t control the safety of your content or information and also that a 3rd party could end up using your content however they see fit.
Sexual content and nudity is regulated. Monkey uses 2 different image recognition companies to scan content. However, two of the llamas I chatted to who used the platfrom had seen content they would have preferred not to have been exposed to and one was also asked to “trade” (sext). It was obvious in my experimental use of Monkey that the user I was paired with had a singular purpose for using the app. Luckily, I ended the call before that purpose was made clear.
Personally, I would not want my daughters using this platform. I feel uncomfortable on three counts:
1. Your child can be paired with an online predator.
2. Your child is sharing personal information with a stranger.
3. Your child can be exposed to user-generated pornography, bullying and other harmful content through using this app.
If your daughter is using the app and you’d like to get rid of it, you need to email her international mobile number to email@example.com ask them remove her from their database, then you need to delete the app off her phone.
If you would like to control the apps your llama downloads to a greater extent you can manage the AppStore in the general settings of her phone and set up restrictions for her AppStore usage. Google “manage AppStore settings” and follow the tutorials for your child’s specific device.
I hope this review was helpful. Have a llovely day!