After reading an article about an app called Yellow and the National Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s warning about it, I decided to try it out myself.
Yellow is a virtual social networking dating app that links to Snapchat, one of the most widely used social media apps among pre-teens and teens today. Yellow is the swipe left, swipe right, accept and reject way of socializing and dating.
The social media app allows users who swipe and accept one another to automatically become Snapchat friends. This means that they can then begin sending photos or “snaps” right away, even if they don’t know each other.
Interested in how easy this sounded, and dangerous, I downloaded the free app from the App Store (available for Android and Iphone), typed in my cell number, got a verification code texted to me, plugged the code into the app and BOOM! I created an account on the app being dubbed Tinder for Teens.
Interesting that when it asked for my date of birth, it defaulted to today’s date, year 2004. This would make me 13 years old (I AM 47). Unable to change this birth date by scrolling down to my actual birth year, I went to settings and tried to change it from there, and this message popped up…
“Be careful, you can’t change your birthdate too often. Otherwise, your account will be limited on Yellow.”
So I assume this means that changing your birthdate is commonplace, which also leads me to believe that kids who are using the app most likely have no idea how old other users really are.
A spokesman for the NSPCC said “Any app that allows strangers to send photos to children or vice versa is troubling – particularly where the images being exchanged are of a sexual nature. And Yellow’s settings that enable adults to view children, through a service blatantly aimed at flirting and relationships, also creates an opportunity for sexual predators to target young people. This needs to be urgently addressed. We want age verification measures in the Digital Economy Bill that will stop under-18s accessing porn websites to be extended to cover social networking platforms. This would mean adults would not be able to pose as children or vice versa.”
Until we can come up with better ways to hold companies accountable for ensuring accurate and truthful online profile information, our children will be exposed to online predators posing as peers.
Many parents feel it is an overwhelming and daunting task to try and keep ahead of the latest apps and dangers online, and yes, it can be. But protecting your child online doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Smarter parents are choosing to purchase software that gives them all the tools necessary to parent in cyberspace, without having to be on top of the daily roll out of new social media platforms.
Being able to block inappropriate websites or content, having the ability to get a real-time alert if sexual language is used, or to be able to track your child’s location in the case of an emergency are things parents are needing in order to feel confident that they are effectively parenting in cyberspace.
Without having some protections in place, you are basically telling your child the following;
WHEN FACED WITH TOUGH DECISIONS ONLINE, TRY TO USE THE PART OF YOUR BRAIN THAT ISN’T DEVELOPED YET
USE IMPULSE CONTROL SKILLS THAT YOU DON’T HAVE YET
BALANCE EMOTION AND LOGIC, EVEN THOUGH YOUR EMOTIONS AT THIS AGE ARE MORE INTENSE THAN THEY WILL BE DURING ANY OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE OF YOUR LIFE
Parents, you decided when it was appropriate to take the training wheels off, you decided when your child could walk through a parking lot without holding your hand and in today’s digital world, you still need to decide what your child can and can’t handle developmentally. You can’t do that if you don’t have the information, so be smarter, your kids are still relying on you to keep them safe.
P.S. I set myself up on Yellow just before writing this, I now have 6 new boys waiting to connect. Account deleted.