While speaking at a school in early May this year Internet Safe Families founder Brett Lee became personally aware that the school had identified and blocked the anonymizer site Yik Yak. You can find out more about the app from our previous blog Why the YIKYAK app is a concern for parents.
The app was brought to the attention of the school via students who reported it’s use, and the almost immediate misuse, whereby serious bullying was occurring amongst certain students.
Yik Yak had arrived in all it’s glory.
Students at the school informed us that one student stumbled across the app and installed it on her phone and then encouraged her friends to do the same. The app spread amongst students and within hours serious issues were being created which included threats and bullying.
Students quickly notified teachers who informed administration. This school, and another nearby who became aware, utilised a feature made available through Yik Yak to enable what is called ‘Geo Fencing’. Yik Yak can geographically identify a school grounds area via Satellite maps and then ban the app once a user is within the school grounds. A request for this feature to be enabled must be made by a school or organisation.
When a student, teacher, or anyone else for that matter enters the school grounds the app is disabled and will not work. This feature cannot be bypassed as the setting has been activated via the owner of the app, Yik Yak. Once a user leaves the school grounds the app will work again though. Yik Yak, a US based company, must appear to have a moral conscience and through public pressure and issues with the app in the United States have made this feature available. This, I suppose, is one positive they must be commended for which is not the case with most other similar sorts of apps.
Is the program the perpetrator? No, it was students who misused it against others, however, the pure nature and functionality of this app preys on human weakness and is the perfectly designed vehicle to enable and encourage those with ill-intentioned motives. This app achieves nothing positive that isn’t a function already available through mainstream programs like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Warning, this program is dangerous for our children to use, nothing comes from its use other than potential heartache for the entire community. Parents, carers and teachers, talk to your school about Yik Yak now. Encourage your community to take proactive action and consider Geo Fencing this app immediately, don’t wait for the issues. Yik Yak wouldn’t have made Geo Fencing available if it wasn’t needed.
Research has shown users require quick, easy and continuous access to an app or program and if this doesn’t occur they lose interest quickly. Just by limiting access on school premise during school hours will result in Yik Yak losing it’s lustre and fans and die a speedy death.