The Yellow App
What is it?
The Yellow App is a smartphone application that lets users view photographs of other users. The concept is that they swipe the photo to the right if they are interested in chatting to the person. It’s designed for users over 18, but it’s terms of service say it can be used with 13 year olds upwards with parental consent (although there isn’t a way of verifying this consent).
The app then shows the user a succession of photos of boys, girls or both (depending on what they asked for during the sign up). You can swipe right to like, or left to ignore. If both users ‘swipe’ each other then they are able to connect using Snapchat (another smartphone app where messages, videos and audio files can be viewed live but are then deleted by the system after 24 hours).
This means that users are able to talk in private, sharing photos, videos and messages immediately from both swiping each other on Yellow.
What are the risks?
The Yellow App has few age verification systems in place, you just enter a birthdate, meaning that any child is able to install it. In addition, in Yellow, users can connect with strangers, whereas most other apps restrict this. The concern with this is that children could be connected to paedophiles or groomers very easily. They can view Snapchat as ‘safe’ hunting grounds as the evidence of what they have been up to will be deleted after 24 hours.
In addition, by connecting on Snapchat (where messages are deleted after 24 hours), it can give young people a false sense of security about what they send. For example, they might think it’s alright to share a secret or a nude photo because no one else will see it. Whereas the reality is that even on systems like Snapchat, users can take an image of the screen and then share it on other social medias.
Likewise, Snapchat can regularly be used for bullying, so if a child does inadvertently connect with someone who bullies them at school, then it extends the reach of the bully.
Only give your child a smartphone when they are mature enough to be able to talk to you about bullying issues.
Teach your child not to react to any strange or unwanted messages and to report or block them.
Talk to your child about what sexting is and how to deal with anyone who tries to push you into doing something you are not comfortable with.
Help your child to understand that they’re likely to be asked for pictures or videos at some point.
Finally make sure your child knows that you will never be angry with them and that you are there for them to turn to when they experience problems.
Let your child take their phone in their room overnight.
Ignore this, it’s far better to talk to your child and let them make informed decisions than have to pick up the pieces later.