It’s no secret that Yik Yak has been causing problems in high schools across the country. The anonymous message sharing app has promised to tackle the problem in schools, saying that the app is only intended for college students, but it’s also no secret that their geofence solution is not 100% effective. Many parents haven’t heard of the app, and for those who have, they may be at a loss for how they can help.
The anonymity offered by Yik Yak has emboldened many teens to post their dirty laundry, threats and descriptions of illegal activity, but there are some things that teens should be aware of when using the app:
There is an age limit. The age limit is 18, or 17 with parental consent. While this is exactly the kind of guideline that teens typically ignore, teens who enter the wild and wooly world of Yik Yak in violation of its rules do so at their own risk. It is as easy for a teen on Yik Yak to be a cyberbullying victim as a perpetrator.
Cyberbullying and harassment are against the rules. There is a lot of both on Yik Yak, and users risk getting in hot water if they are doing it – reported to school authorities or worse.
It is not really anonymous. Yik Yak clearly states that, in addition to your Geolocation data and content that you post, they collect the following information:
“access time, device ID, application ID or other unique identifier; domain name, IP address, screen views; geo-location data (with your permission); language information; device name and model; operating system information; your activities within the Services; and the length of time that you are logged in”
Yik Yak readily and quickly cooperates with law enforcement officials. There are weekly reports of teens being arrested after posting a threat or something else that is reported as violating the law. Yik Yak is happy to help the police arrest your teen if the circumstances merit it, including some threats that could be a joke.
In summary, teens should know better, but in practice many of them don’t. As a parent, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your teen doesn’t land in hot water because of Yik Yak.
Option 1: Ask your teen whether he uses Yik Yak, or check his phone for yourself (you’ll need the phone’s lock screen password). If the answer is “yes”, you can use that information to discuss the points above, in an attempt to ensure that the app’s use is safe and responsible.
Option 2: Check your teen’s phone. If the app is there and the phone is unlocked, you can open Yik Yak without a password, and see what he has been Yakking. From the home screen, click “Me” from the menu on the bottom of the screen, then click “My Yaks”. It’s as simple as that.
Yik Yak has been a big problem in high schools, but your teen doesn’t have to be part of the problem. Be informed, ask questions and perhaps check for yourself.
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