In my Cyber Safety class for parents I discuss the general problem with social media; 1) Children can communicate with people outside their parent’s knowledge, and 2) Anonymous apps allow children to act without accountability.
Yik Yak, an app that is firmly rooted in the second problem of social media just raised 62 million dollars. Yik Yak has been a platform for cyberbullying and threats that have shut down schools for days. Applications that allow users to cloak themselves in anonymity are where the teens are migrating to, and by consequence, where the money and app developers are focusing on.
The app is mostly popular with college students “but has been troublesome for middle and high schools across the country because of bullying,” reports Re/Code.
Yik Yak allows anyone within a mile of the person posting the message to read it, which means it works well in school and campus settings, depending on your definition of “working well.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Dennis Berman points out that when you log into Yik Yak, these are the “top messages” you see — the ones with the most upvotes by users. The messages are pretty gross.
Other applications that send messages or images that delete after the recipient reads them (e.g., SnapChat, Whisper, etc.) is another class of apps that encourages teens to send media that they would otherwise think twice about because a false sense of security.
Parents need to identify these applications and not allow their children to have them on their mobile devices.