The popular hook-up app Tinder reduces dating to a binary decision based on a photo: Hot or not?
Ubiquitous Google searches turn school research into a game of looking for the actual question from a homework assignment.
And political polls are now done one Facebook query at a time: Hillary or Trump? Jeb or Bernie?
In the age of shallow, it’s no surprise that the mobile app Wishbone has garnered more than 3 million teen users in six months. Wishbone serves up such simple questions as: Sneakers or boots? Donuts or cookies? Pumpkin spice spread or peanut butter? Sexy or funny Halloween costumes?
It’s fun and simple, and as the user community has grown, so have the questions become more revealing about the psyche of the modern, highly connected teen. Superficial questions like “Should Khloe Kardashian get back with ex-hubby Lamar Odom?” contrast with “Have you ever been a victim of cyberbullying or a bully?”
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But you have to wonder how much teens know about questions like “Tinder or OkCupid?” even if more of the user-submitted questions that arise are rife with spelling errors — “pepporni pizza or plain pepporoni? (sic)” — than intimations of adult relationships.
Still, Wishbone can be fun, and teens are apparently quite tolerant of the forced 30-second video ads that pop up every few minutes.
Dig further into Wishbone and you find that any user can submit a question, which also becomes clear as you spend more time wading through the frequent grammatical mistakes and puzzle at the oft-incoherent questions. It’s not marketed as an app for teen girls, but the ads clearly demonstrate the demographic, advertising apps like Covet Fashion, Jelly Blast and Coin Dozer.
Teens are apparently quite tolerant of the forced 30-second video ads that pop up every few minutes.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Wishbone. In fact, it’s a neat way to offer up user-submitted “A” or “B” choice surveys. The underlying problem is that teens are already spending too much time, according to most parents, staring at their phones.
Wishbone producer Science Inc.’s CEO Michael Jones suggests teens hunger for new smartphone content. The truth of the matter might be more adequately summed up by the one word reason my own daughter likes Wishbone: “mindless.”
An app that allows tweens and teens to survey each other to find out what’s popular is a perfectly acceptable use of technology. Wishbone offers no explicit parental controls, but the content and ads are almost exclusively aimed at the teen girl demographic.
Having a prompt that encourages users to be present in the real world might be what parents dream of if they could grab the larger piece of this digital wishbone.