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Honk has alerted users that this app will no longer be updated and may be permanently deleted in the near future. If this happens, your child will be notified by Honk and all of their user data will be erased. Click here for more information.
Honk is a free mobile app launched in 2020 that offers a different messaging experience. One to one direct messages are shared between two users in real time as they type them, including all of the pauses and typos. There is no opportunity to craft the perfect message, to edit or redraft your message. The aim is to make the messaging more immediate and ‘in the moment’ than other messaging platforms. The app has no saved chat history or send button and once you are in the chat, you can have a live, disappearing chat conversation. Honk is not yet available on Android and is only available in the Apple App Store to iOS users, although it is likely to become available on Android soon.
Official age rating
The minimum age restriction for Honk users is 13, however, it does not have any rigorous age verification methods.
All accounts default to a public setting, where users can be searched for and contacted on the platform.
Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.
How children and young people use the app
Young people enjoy this app as an interactive and social platform with fun emojis and other effects for lively chatting and sharing in real time. The real time typing and lack of editing of their text can make people feel more present and ‘in the moment’ in their online communications. With no send button, disappearing messages and a ‘Honk’ button to grab the attention of friends, the app provides a distinct type of instant messaging with real appeal for children and young people. However, some young people feel that having their unedited messages on display leaves them exposed, making them vulnerable to ridicule if they spell something wrong or type something they later regret.
Key features and terminology
The key feature of Honk is the availability of real time messaging, which involves live typing which users can see as it happens and the fact that there is no send button.
Honk offers users the ability to react in real time by sending huge emojis.
A user can tap on the reaction feature and choose to send a burst of emojis to another user as a reaction to their message. If both users do this at the same time, there will be a clash of emojis with visual effects.
The ‘Honk’ button can be used to get another user’s attention when they are not in the chat to get them to join. It essentially notifies another user and invites them to join.
Honk claim that messages will disappear and there is no record of it.
This feature allows certain words to be automatically associated with an emoji that accompanies it every time.
Honk asks you to share at least 5 interests. This is then used to match you with other Honk users.
The section of the app that helps to match you to other users with similar interests.
Once you have been linked with another user and your conversation ends, you are given the chance to add that person as a friend.
Users can send their friends a compliment by opening chat details and tapping the present icon or any compliment sticker.
As the messages on Honk are user generated, the content of the messages are not moderated. This means your child could be exposed to bad language or mature content. By restricting who your child can access on the platform, your child is less likely to experience language or behaviour that is not suitable for their age. The disappearing text also presents a risk, as users could feel disinhibited and inclined to share content which they assume cannot be viewed again. Since there is no chat history, there is likely to be no permanent record of what the sender may have said or sent via the app, unless a user has taken a screen shot of the chat content. This could apply to a range of situations, including the sharing of nude images, racist or hateful comments or engaging in bullying and harassment. The platform states that it does not allow, and has the right to remove, content that is defamatory, obscene, indecent, abusive, offensive, harassing, violent, hateful, inflammatory, or otherwise objectionable. However, this could be difficult to monitor on a platform where messages immediately disappear. It is possible for a user to screen grab a conversation, but it could be difficult for someone who is being harassed or abused to think to do this in the moment. A lack of chat history could impact on the ability of the police or other relevant authorities to investigate issues of concern that may have occurred via the app.
Connecting with others
The key risk is the disappearing text which means that there is no record of who your child is interacting with or how. This could enable connections to use the app for grooming, bullying or sexual harassment, as the text disappears leaving no visual record of what has happened and therefore making it difficult to trace. It is important that children and young people know how to limit their contacts in settings to those who are known friends. Disabling friend requests on Honk is recommended. Speak to your child about the risks of connecting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing any personal or identifiable information within chats. Remind users to tell you if they have been asked more personal questions or to chat privately using a different app. Changing the privacy settings to sharing only with friends is recommended.
The ‘Disappearing message’ feature that Honk is known for can give young people a false sense of security about sharing. It is possible that some users could use the app in a manipulative way, encouraging other users to share personal content in order to take a screenshot of text or photos and then share them widely on other platforms. It is important to explain to your child that all content can be screenshotted, saved and widely shared. They always need to consider the content they create and share by really thinking about whether they would be happy for everyone they know to see it.
Design, data and costs
As with many other messaging apps, it has been designed to keep users engaged and on the platform for extended periods of time. It can be difficult for children to resist the notifications encouraging them to respond. Encourage your child to take a break from Honk by changing the notification settings to reduce the number of notifications they receive.
Tips for keeping your child safe
There are limited safety settings or privacy features on Honk. The best way to manage privacy is to disable friend requests, which will mean others on the platform cannot add them as a friend.
To disable friend requests:
- Click on your profile picture to reveal the settings menu and choose ‘Privacy’.
Switch on the ‘Disable friend requests’ option.
As there are limited safety settings on Honk, the best way to manage interactions and content is to limit who they can interact with. Enabling the ‘Hide from suggestions’ feature will ensure your child’s account doesn’t appear as a suggested friend to other users.
To enable ‘Hide from suggestions’:
- Click on your profile picture to reveal the settings menu and choose ‘Privacy’.
- Switch on the ‘Hide from suggestions’ option.
To adjust your ‘Friend finder’:
- Select the icon with three lines on the ‘Meet’ page.
- Here you can select whether the user just wants to contact men, women or everyone.
Users can report and block users who may be bothering them or behaving inappropriately on the platform.
To ‘Report’, ‘Block’ or ‘Remove a friend’:
- Go to your contact list and select the contact you wish to remove as a friend.
- Click on their profile picture and select ‘Options’. Choose from either ‘Report’, ‘Block’ or ‘Remove friend’.
Honk offers a few settings that can help reduce the number of notifications you receive.
To change notification settings:
- Click on your profile picture to reveal the settings menu and choose ‘Notifications’.
- Work through the options given and toggle off the notification you would like to turn off.
- Options include –
- ‘Reduce Honks’ - keeping this turned on will help reduce the number of honks you receive in a row per friend.
- ‘Send fewer notifications’- which will reduce the number of notifications the user receives.
If your child uses Honk, talk to them about the risks of disappearing chat. Explain that although it may feel safe to share something about themselves because it is ‘in the moment,’ any text or picture they share can be saved and shared with others. Remind your child that they should never share anything that they would not be happy for others to see.
Honk encourages interactivity and for friends and contacts to find each other. Try to make sure your child is only using Honk with other users that they know and trust.
If you believe Honk might have any information from or about a child under 13, contact the platform at email@example.com