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Yik Yak - What Parents Need to Know

Apps and Games Thursday, March 6, 2014

Parents need to be on the look out for Yik Yak on their children's smart phones. This new social media app that launched just three months ago is spreading like wildfire and creating havoc in schools and the lives of it's users. Here's what parents need to know

The app store states "You must be at least 17 years old to download this app." That is apparently not stopping anyone.

Yik Yak can have frequent/intense sexual content, nudity, profanity, crude humor, and references to alcohol, tobacco, or drug use.screen568x568

Yik Yak allows anonymous comments or posts done using an alias.

Users believe that there is no way to trace the source of the messages, but police were able to arrest a juvenile after investigators learned where the post was made after receiving help from Yik Yak.

The anonymity leads to posts described by the middle school principal in Georgia as "especially vicious and hurtful." The anonymity and use of aliases makes it ripe for use as a cyberbullying tool, which has certainly happened. Philly.com described posts sent by kids about others as "hateful" and noted that it was used to defame a deceased student.

Yik Yak knows your location and allows users  to discover a live feed of Yaks (or messages) posted by people within 5 to 10 miles of their location. Posters choose to share with the closest 100, 250, or 500 Yik Yak users.

Users have to be signed into the app to receive the messages, but theydon’t have to have an account.

The app encourages discussion of "anything and everything" and encourages "share your stories anonymously and get upvotes if people like it."

The description of it in the App Store says "What happens on Yik Yak, stays on Yik Yak." Kids are misled by such statements seeming to promise privacy, which sound similar to SnapChat. Of course, app users cannot control what happens to posts on the internet which can end up anywhere and read by anyone.

The app was developed by students at Furman University and was intended for use on college campuses. This app has followed the path of many trends and has trickled down to younger kids, so Yik Yak is now big in high school and even middle schools. Schools have objected to Yik Yak, saying it violated their anti-bullying policies.

Yik Yak offers two ways to report inappropriate content. One way is to have two people select the comment and click the report inappropriate button. The other is emailing a screen shot of offensive content to yikyakapp@gmail.com for immediate removal.

(www.chicagonow.com/tween-us)

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