There’s a new social network that’s already been called troubling by many schools and colleges. It’s called Yik Yak and it’s basically an anonymous local messaging app, kind of like a bulletin board. Yik Yak uses GPS to determine locations and lets users within a 1.5 mile radius read your ‘yaks’ (updates). Kind of like a local Twitter – only anonymous.
It’s that anonimity that causes the problems. Users can post whatever they want about whomever they want, completely anonymous. Well, as far as true anonymity still exists these days anyways. Obviously users can be traced when necessary, but it’s not easy.
That’s why many schools have already had issues with Yik Yak, because it’s perfect for cyber bullying. Oficially, the app is aimed at college students but that doesn’t mean younger kids can’t find it or use it. I received an email from my son’s elementary school this week that they’d had problems with Yik Yak in 5th grade classes.
It’s why more and more schools have decided to ban Yik Yak. And they can fortunately; so called geofences make it possible to block the app in certain areas, like middle schools and high schools. There have also been colleges who have blocked the app. That’s not the perfect solution obviously, as students can still use it outside of school grounds.
It’s one more example of why it is so important to be in a constant conversation with students about their online behavior and lives. And as youth leaders, we should stay on top of developments like this so we can educate parents and students about the dangers and risks of social networks.