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Kids' Phone Safety Blog

Tinder for Kids: What Parents Must Know about the Yellow App

December 19, 2017
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Smartphones and the World Web became an integral part of the modern teenagers’ life. The statistics speak well for it: 24% of teens admit they go online almost constantly (according to the Pew Research study). Downloading new apps and spending time on those they’ve already installed is one of the most popular activities among the adolescents. Over 38% of teenagers download two or more new apps monthly in search of something new and more exciting. No parent would be surprised to hear that messaging apps are their kids’ favorites. Clearly, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik are not the only options – dozens of new apps for online communication are launched every month. And one of those is Yellow. What is a Yellow app and what risks it may bring to your child – learn more in this article.

Yellow is a free location-based mobile app designed for finding other Snapchat and Instagram users in one’s locality and sharing each other’s usernames. The app also allows its users to chat and exchange photos. Yellow appeared in late 2016 and soon enough managed to gain popularity among teens and young adults. Despite its short history, the app which defines itself as a tool that helps “to find Snapchat friends in your area” has also become notorious. “Teen dating app”, “sexting app” and “Tinder for kids” are some of the least favorable feedbacks given by the parents of many children who have already tried out Yellow.

girl with phone

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Having downloaded Yellow app from the AppStore or Google Play, one has to give their phone number and receives a text with an access code. After entering their Snapchat username, one is asked four basic questions: their first name, age, gender and if they are looking for girls, boys or both. And that’s where the first pitfall comes: officially, only users older than 13 are allowed to use Yellow. However, there’s no way to verify one’s age, and no one will stop kids from faking it by entering an incorrect date of birth. Moreover, multiple reviews claim that even if a child enters their real age – 11, for example – the app would automatically change it to at least 13. It means that everyone can become a member of the Yellow community. Therefore, the age restriction policy in the app is no more than a fig-leaf.

The next step for a newbie is to download one to five photos for their profile and indicate their location, which is just another snag. Yellow asks permission to access a person’s location, and offers two buttons – “OK” and “Don’t allow”. As it turns out, the second is not really an option, as the app won’t let anyone in without being enabled to know their location. A barely legible message on the bottom of the screen informs users about it. Besides, user’s location, as well as their birthday, are both shown on their profile to everyone else – this setting cannot be adjusted to “private”. Such exposure can be appealing to online predators who may easily get to know a child’s whereabouts anytime. The fact that Yellow does not really require any age verification makes it even easier for a predator to create a false identity and pretend to be a kid’s peer to be able to approach them.

Now let’s take a look at how Yellow works. Once a teen is signed up to the app they can see profiles of other users in their locality. The Yellow marketing says: “Make friends, swipe right to like, left to pass.” If both users swipe each other’s pictures right, it’s a mutual “like”, and they become “friends”. This is exactly how Tinder – an adult dating website – works. “Friends” on Yellow can exchange their Snapchat and Instagram usernames or chat and exchange photos right in the app. However, not all conversations are innocent and limit themselves to just friendship. Many teenagers use Yellow to flirt, find sexting friends, send nudes or semi-nude photos to strangers. It’s just one more reason for predators to use Yellow.

So, what is the verdict? Yellow dating app hides many threats for children, and it’s totally OK for parents not to want their young kids to ever use it. Yellow contacts can be potentially dangerous and may get teens involved in sexting or approached by online predators.

What can parents whose children are already using Yellow do? First of all, they should discuss with kids potential dangers of this app, and urge them to delete it. Parents should also explain that sexting and sending nude or semi-nude pictures by and to other underage teens is considered a child pornography, and may entail serious criminal liability with life-long consequences. If a teen uses Yellow, parents should also insist on knowing their password and being able to monitor their contacts and messages at any time. A reliable parental monitoring app can help them with that. To prevent kids from using the Yellow app, parents should explain all its drawbacks and possible risks before children ever try it out.

How would you act if you find this app on your kid’s device?

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