What Parents Need to Know About the Yellow App and Safety
Yellow is a new app for cellular phones that is aimed directly at teenagers. Its icon is an innocuous yellow square on a device’s home screen, but the app behind this icon should be cause for concern among parents.
The app allows users to see pictures and profile information of other users who live near them. Like Tinder, a user swipes right if they like a profile and left to reject one; if two users both “like” each other’s profiles by swiping right, their Snapchats become connected and they are able to swap pictures.
It’s Linked With Snapchat
Right away, Yellow’s website raises a lot of concerns, as there is not a lot of information on it about the app. Furthermore, many of the app’s practices raise red flags for parents who are concerned about who their teens encountering strangers and predators.
Since it’s attached to Snapchat, it has the same dangers as that app, like teens using the disappearing picture messages for sexting. However, Yellow raises its own concerns beyond the connection with Snapchat.
It’s Marketed Directly to Teens
Yellow has been hailed as “Tinder for teens,” and users aged 13-17 do not have access to the 18+ version of the app. However, the app also does not have any sort of age verification. Adult predators can sign on and pretend to be minors. Children younger than 13 can create a profile, and even if they put in their actual age, the profile creation defaults to 13.
With all of this in mind, Yellow is marketed directly to teens and encourages teens to use it. The appeal of this app to teens should have parents ready to monitor it. However, even with monitoring use, there are still too many ways the app can be used for bullying, exploitation or harm.
Users’ Profiles Show Too Much Information
The fact that Yellow matches users by location ensures that everyone your child comes into contact with on the app is local. The app uses the phone’s geo-locator, which can create a host of issues. Predators can use pictures to figure out where their targets go to school and hang out, and can actually go there to find the teen.
Teens can be lured into sexting and nude photos, which can then be posted online. As already noted, Snapchat can enable sexting because the users believe the pictures disappear within seconds, but a quick-thinking predator can screenshot a Snapchat picture before it disappears.
Nude or compromising pictures have a danger beyond sexting. They can be used to exploit or blackmail the kids in them, or even be posted online or passed around simply to embarrass or bully someone.
It Promotes “Hooking Up”
On the sign-up screen, in addition to using the phone’s location and having no age verification, the app specifically asks users what kind of date they are looking for. New users express their gender and fill in a field that states “looking for boys” or “looking for girls.”
While this is not a red flag by itself, it invites misuse with incredibly strong pressure to connect with someone for the purpose of dating. This has the potential to lead to pressures to sext or engage in sexual activity. The lack of oversight and rapid disappearance of pictures lends to this, and can also lead to harassment from rejected connections.
The App Doesn’t Do Much
The one quality Snapchat has that curbs abuse by predators is that it is difficult to meet strangers there. The only thing Yellow seems to do is remove that safeguard. Otherwise, there is nothing Yellow offers that your teen couldn’t get with a safer app.
In fact, it could be argued that the things it does offer make teens more vulnerable by making it harder for parents to monitor. The function of Snapchat that deletes the pictures after a few seconds is exactly why it gets abused by teens and predators for sexting to begin with. There was already the risk of sexting with people they know, and Yellow does nothing more than up the ante by putting teens in touch with others they don’t know.
Teen safety and privacy on the Internet are already an issue. It is good Internet practice to be engaged in your child’s involvement on the Internet to establish good habits, such as not sharing personal information and being mindful of the content they share.
The temptation to sext, especially if their friends are sexting, is too great already, and it seems that Yellow only makes that worse by pinpointing exactly where your teen is at any given time and by pairing it with an app that already has a bad reputation for sexting. If your teen is going to use Yellow, it is imperative to sit and talk with them about Internet safety and the risks Yellow poses.