We all want our kids to read more so an app that claims to have had users reading for over 500,000 hours sounds like a godsend. It is, in fact, a great idea and a pretty original way to get it’s users to read. The Hooked app isn’t new, having launched in 2014, but it’s rating number 6 in the iOS app store today. It’s popularity is growing fast.
Hooked is an app that tells stories in the form of text messaging conversations. The story topics include comedy, horror, fantasy, and sci fi. Each story has a title page photo, many of which feature a pretty girl or couple in a romantic or suggestive pose. When you’ve made your choice the story unfolds one text message at a time, usually in the form of a conversation between a couple of people. You can tap the screen to reveal the next message and you may find yourself in a tapping frenzy to reach the next plot twist. Then, however, you’ll suddenly be halted by the Hooked Owl asking you to pay for more “Hoots.” A “Hoot” is a click/tap and you only have a certain amount of them every hour. Once you’ve used them up you’ll be prompted to buy more or sign up for a weekly or monthly subscription to get unlimited “Hoots.” If you’re like me and not ready to invest fiscally in finding out the next line of the story you can just wait until the next hour begins.
The Hooked app cashes in on the obvious popularity of texting by using it as a storytelling venue. This makes it very appealing to the younger aged adults and teenagers. The target audience for the Hooked app is ages 13-24 but I wouldn’t just look over the app if I saw it on my teen’s phone.
What Parents Should Know
The Hooked app consists of some very mature themed stories but is targeting younger teens. The stories are delivered in a way that your teens and tweens will definitely find appealing. I found myself anxious to find read the next message as the story progressed. Obviously the story really started to climax right before I ran out of “Hoots” so I would have to wait a while to continue reading. While this did get me to close the app for a while, the $7.99 per month for unlimited “Hoots” is a low price tag for being able to sit all day long and click through these stories.
My issue isn’t really with the way the stories are delivered, it’s actually a creative way to tell these tales. The “one post at a time” method lends itself to a lot of suspense and a pretty entertaining read. The problem I have is the addictive nature of this app, if you can tap an unlimited number of times and go from story to story you’d very easily find yourself reading through a hundred of these stories in just a few days. Also, these stories can be pretty mature, dramatic, and suspenseful. The categories feature love and thriller options and the stories get quite intense at times. The texting storytelling method also makes them a bit more eerie. Users can also write stories which makes for a completely new potential problem there. Any time you’re dealing with User Generated Content it’s hard to be sure what your kids may read.
My advice is to know your child and their maturity level well before you let them use Hooked. I wouldn’t go by the 9+ rating it has in the app store, I would assume your child should be a bit older. Keep in mind that many of these stories are written by users of the app. Since the content can’t be guaranteed to be safe for any age group, you should help your teen or tween by involving yourself in their decision to use Hooked. If they do read on the app, I recommend asking them what the stories are about and what they like about them. Keep yourself in the loop and informed as much as possible.