Skout – The Social Network that Focuses on Sex, Hooking up and Flirting – What Parents Need to Know
Skout is a social networking site that’s become popular in the past couple months. From the outside it looks like any other Facebook wannabe site, however, once you start poking around inside it becomes obvious that this isn’t like any other social network.
Skout is a dating/hookup site with several social network elements such as photos, status updates, and virtual gifts. The site has gotten in trouble before when two girls, ages 12 and 15, and a 13 year old boy, who downloaded the app, were allegedly raped by adults who were using the app to meet children. The article, written by Dan Lyons at Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, can be read here. The company has subsequently closed the app and only publishes the adult version, however, there isn’t any difference between the two versions except that the adult version “requires” that you’re 18 or older to join. It’s a fairly arbitrary hurdle for children and is more of a symbolic gesture on the part of Skout than an actual commitment to change.
What makes the site dangerous is that there aren’t any safeguards in place to verify users’ ages or to filter out inappropriate content. That combined with the fact that the site pushes users to upload pictures of themselves means underage children could be chatting and sharing pictures of themselves with adult users.
When our editorial team created an account, one of the things that stood out was the ability to see who was viewing their profile (positioned as “who’s checked me out”). You can also receive a chat request from any user, not just users on your friends list.
When you first create an account the site asks you for some information such as your sex and if you’re interested in men or women. Once you answer those questions it populates your page with users who meet your criteria, and in our case the team created a male user and Skout started pushing female users to the page. This is the very definition of a hook-up/dating/flirting website.
To help users get noticed, Skout has a “Look at me” function where users can bid with virtual credits and the winners get featured on all users profiles. The rationale behind it is that users who get lots of exposure will also have a better chance of “getting lucky” and making friends.
Skout perpetuates the “meat market” mentality that is affecting children today. It’s the idea that you have to have risqué pictures of yourself on social networks in order to have friends. Don’t let your children get caught up in this social network, it’s unsafe and clearly isn’t a place meant for kids and young teens.