So you've heard about Twitter and Instagram, maybe you even have an account. What about Snapchat, Vine, Wanelo, Kik Messenger, Ooovoo, Pheed, Poof, Ask.fm and Yik Yak?
Sounds like I'm speaking a foreign language, right? To your tween and teenager, these social media platforms are everything right now.
You don't need to know the ins and outs of every social media site that's "hot" right now (and let's be real, if you did, they wouldn't be so "hot" anymore). But knowing the basics: what they are, why they're popular, and the problems and destruction that can occur when they're not used responsibly, can make the difference between a positive and negative experience for your teen.
The social media app, Yik Yak, created for the college student (ages 17+), to communicate campus wide, is now being abused by teenagers of Bergen, especially Glen Rock and Ridgewood where letters and emails were recently sent out to parents.
Let’s back track for a second, what is Yik Yak?
Like ask.fm, it allows Teens to post anonymous messages online. The MAJOR difference and why Yik Yak is even more dangerous than ask.fm, Yik Yak is a “local bulletin board,” ALL posts can be seen by ALL teens in their immediate area faster than ever.
Obviously, the ability to spread rumors and cyber bully is always a major concern. What I think is equally important to know with the summer months upon us, if you’re planning to leave your teen at home, even if it’s just to go out for the evening, all it takes is one post from either your teen (or someone in their circle) or maybe a rumor post, for you to have hundreds of kids show up ready to party.
What are schools doing about this?
Some local school districts have already blocked the app from its network, however, that won't stop students with smartphones from using it on their own networks.
Can’t we just forbid our teens from using it?
Sure, except they are little technological ninjas that know how to install, and uninstall, apps in less than a second. The teen who leaves for school in the morning with no Yik Yak on their phone can easily install it, use it and then delete it again before they get home. Just like that.
What Yik Yak Says:
According to the guidelines, the app shouldn’t be used for bullying or targeting of “other yakkers.” Users are also advised to refrain from using people’s full names and phone numbers and to “downvote” or report “useless or offensive yaks.”
Arrows up and down are votes (see picture above), which move comment (comments are called, “Yaks”) to higher visibility and are considered “Hot” or “downvote” the comment (Yak), which sends it down on the list of comments (Yaks).
You’ll see that the Yaks on the picture featured are from 6 days ago.
Because that’s how far I had to scroll to find Yaks with no first and last names of local kids in them. From the Yaks below, you might guess that what was written about these individuals wasn’t exactly kind.
“If you can’t beat them, join them.” Seriously. Download the app on your smartphone or ipad. You don’t have to create an account, just by having the app you will get your local newsfeed. This will allow you to see what is “really” going on in your community, straight from the fingertips of teens.
Also, if parents start joining or posting on Yik Yak it will ruin the cool factor immediately (ask your teen how often they use Facebook) and hopefully it will disappear quicker than the info shared on it!
~Julie Brower, Certified Teen Life Coach, Health Coach & Teen Yoga Teacher, has helped hundreds of teen girls gain knowledge, tools, confidence and courage to make decisions from a place of self-knowledge, self-respect and strength. Through one-on-one coaching, group workshops, events, parties and movement, Julie connects with girls on their level and gets results