What is the app Amino and should my kids have it?
Here’s the 5 Facts you need to know about Amino:
#1 The Basics
Amino is a social networking app aimed at teens that builds communities around specific interests.
Their website states: Amino has authentic mobile Communities for whatever you’re into. YOUR INTERESTS…TIMES INFINITY
Amino began as a network of separate apps, each with its own area of focus and community. The company has since created one “parent” app for users to access each amino community, but the original separate Amino apps are still available for download. These standalone apps function in the same way as the amino communities and are all governed by the one “parent” app.
The platform is similarly organized as Reddit; fostering online communities around particular topics/interests. However what you can do within each amino community (built on a specific interest) is much greater than on Reddit.
Like other social media platforms, you can customize your profile, follow other users, and grow your own following.
#2 Creating an Amino Account
Amino is free to download. Immediately the app asks for your gender (male/female/nonbinary) and age.
The app then leads you through a selection of your interests and suggestion of people to follow. Once your basic interests are established, you land on the DISCOVER page. Here, you’ll be able to view a selection of content aggregated just “FOR YOU”. Choosing Communities at the bottom allows you browse different groups to join. This is where it will then require you to SIGN UP for an actual account.
You can create an Amino account with a Facebook account, email address, or phone number. Upon sign up, the app prompts you to create a profile with a username and avatar.
They’ll ask to share location – always say NO to this.
If you want to join an amino, you tap on the: JOIN AMINO button. It will then thank you and encourage you to read the community’s guidelines.
However, if you don’t find a community for your interest you can create a community yourself.
When notifications are on, you’ll be notified instantly when someone has followed you, messaged you, etc. in each amino. If you become active in multiple aminos, you’ll end up receiving a lot of notifications. A Brave Parenting practice is to turn off as many notifications as possible to limit daily distractions.
Amino encourages your account to have a ‘screen name’ rather than your authentic name. You can even have multiple different usernames within different communities. Essentially you can change your name, profile picture, and bio to match each specific interest of that community.
Amino was one of the first social media platforms to bring anonymity to video chat: the app requires you to use avatars so that no one can see what you really look like. The app also prevents users from putting the camera anywhere but on their faces.
Anyone can follow your profile, you don’t accept/decline people and if you comment in a public community then anyone can see it – so basically, the anonymity is the app’s main source of privacy.
As an anonymous app, it’s important to recognize everyone is a stranger and it’s likely that no one is who they say they are.
#4 Amino Communities
Each community is known as an “Amino”.
Each amino has a “Leader”. They establish rules such as how much swearing they allow, what you’re allowed to talk about or not talk about, and how users are supposed to behave. Leaders are not Amino employees, but rather the person who created the community. In online reviews, some amino leaders reportedly act biased or even bullying to community members.
Each Amino may be configured differently but all offer the same qualities/activities. Amino users can:
- look at news feeds
- post blogs, links and quizzes
- participate in public and private chats
- enter “screening rooms” where they can watch live videos with other users
- live chat anonymously by means of an avatar.
Not surprisingly, Amino gamifies your participation in each community. If you tap the “Check In” inside the Amino you’ve joined, you earn REP (reputation) points and can “level up”. The more often you check in to each amino, the faster you will increase your REP. You can also earn REP points for time spent in the app, a featured blog post, streaming content in a screening room, and staying engaged.
There is also a Leaderboard which allows users to see which users are the most active in that amino.
#5 Parental Controls & Ratings
The most dangerous aspects of Amino are how easy it is to connect with strangers and to find (or stumble upon) mature content or inappropriate behavior.
Amino doesn’t allow pornography but there are a lot of sexually suggestive content, sexual role-playing, and communities based on sexual identity – and they are all easy to find. Not even to mention all of the dark communities that exist.
Overall, it’s easy to see how teens get sucked into this app. It consistently encourages you to explore and join more aminos and the gamification of your engagement manipulates you to spend more time in the app.
There are also ads and in-app purchases.
App Store: 12+
Google Play: T Teen
Brave Parenting: Not really necessary at all but if mature, 16+
This app falls into the category of: just because you can doesn’t mean it is wise or best. It is great to connect with others who share our same interests, but to do so in an anonymous fashion on an app known to promote provocative and explicit content isn’t edifying or a productive use of time.