Spreiter, J. (2014, December 12). Rising concern for kids’ use on apps, like “Yik Yak.” Retrieved from http://www.weau.com
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — One of the biggest criticisms of social media sites and applications is their ability to feed cyber-bullying. Experts say kids download apps, like Yik Yak, without their parents even knowing, and then some kids make hurtful posts.
In the old days, high school kids wrote nasty things about each other on lockers and bathroom walls. Now, the gossip has moved online.
Andrea North is an educational and marketing consultant. She runs #SocialSchool4EDU, a program aimed at educating folks on social media.
“Yik Yak is the latest one that focuses on anonymity, which is a big flag for both parents and kids on social media sites,” says North.
When there’s no accountability, it makes it easier for kids and teens to write freely.
Justin Patchin is a professor at UW-Eau Claire. He also travels the country researching cyber-bullying. He sees danger in apps like Yik Yak.
“You don’t have to put any personal information when you sign up, you can download the app, and make comments that anybody within a ten-mile radius can see, but nobody knows who posted those comments,” says Patchin.
Here’s how Yik Yak works. Users are able to post anonymously. Those posts can then be “up-voted” or “down-voted” by other users within a ten-mile radius. The goal is to raise “Yakarma.” The more up-votes you get, the better. Down-votes will negatively affect “Yakarma.”
“Yik Yak seems to be anonymous, but it’s not really anonymous. It’s more confidential. The administrators of the app know who’s connecting,” says Patchin.
Patchin also says how every time you post online, you leave a digital foot print that can never be erased.
“If you’re trying to use these apps to get away with something, to be hurtful, or cross the line and break the law, it’s very likely that the police can track you down,” says Patchin.
While it’s causing alarm, parents aren’t totally helpless.
“Our kids are growing up in a different age. Ask your kids what they’re looking at and what kind of apps are they using,” says North.
North says if you’re not familiar with the topic, be sure to search it online. Find out what your kids are getting into before it leads to trouble later.
For more on Andrea North’s social media program, go to www.socialschool4edu.com. You can also check out Justin Patchin’s work. He is co-author of “Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral.”