A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Simply download the app, enter your phone number to get a code (to prove you're human), and enable your device's location services to use YIK YAK, which will then let you post brief "yaks" about what you're up to or what you're interested in. Read other users' yaks, and tap the up or down arrows to "upvote" or "downvote" them. Two tabs at the top are for "New" and "Hot" posts, and users can see comments from others. A "Share" button allows users to post content to other sites or share via messaging. "Yakarma" is an assigned set of points that includes with posting and upvotes
Is it any good?
Ultimately, this is a gossipy, lewd, crass online environment in which anything goes and users say anything about anybody. Because some kids under the app's required age of 17 are using Yik Yak (and because there have been instances of users posting threats of violence against schools, which have prompted schools to ban the app or even sometimes to close), access to Yik Yak reportedly has been blocked at some schools so messages can't be posted or received in or near that school. In fact, there's a whole category in the app's online FAQ section related to how the app is blocked on middle school and high school campuses nationwide. That alone should be endorsement enough of this app's serious destructive potential.
Though it may have been created as a way for college kids to locate the nearest local parties, bar deals, and other campus happenings, it's used by some to publicize their latest sexual escapades, complain about people by name, and lambaste teachers for giving too much homework. This app is not for anyone under 17 -- or anyone over 17 who cares about meaningful, respectful social networking. For parents, the most important fact is that much of the content here is not suitable for kids and may be harmful in cases of cyberbullying, explicit sexual content, unintended location sharing, and exposure to explicit information about drugs and alcohol. The addition of photo messaging in 2015 may increase opportunities to share iffy content, though no faces are allowed in pictures and the developers state that pictures will be moderated. Ultimately, this app is not for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Yik Yak's focus on anonymous and geotagged posts, which raises concerns about people using it to cyberbully others. Talk with your kid about how to prevent cyberbullying and read Common Sense Media's Parents' Top 10 Cyberbullying Questions.
Discuss with your kid why some apps such as this one have age restrictions and why it's important to honor them. Talking about why this app isn't appropriate for kids also may present a good opportunity to review Internet Safety: Rules of the Road for Kids.
No doubt about it: It's difficult to keep track of which social-networking apps are the latest, most popular ones with teens. It can help to use resources such as Common Sense Media and keep an open line of communication about your kids' online lives with them and with other parents and teachers at their schools.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.