Yellow is an app that describes itself as “a new social to make new friends and spend time with them with chat and live videos.” Yellow does much more than that, it is the Tinder for teens: an app that allows teens to meet strangers and indicate if they are interested in meeting them in person.
How it works
The mobile phone app is free to download. To create a Yellow profile, users must enter their Snapchat username, and give their first name, gender and date of birth. Users can then choose who they would like to connect with; boys, girls or both. Finally, users can then upload a profile picture and up to 5 other photos. The design of the app is similar to Tinder and encourages users to describe themselves using emoji’s, a feature that would appeal to younger users.
Yellow uses location technology to find other users nearby, therefore anyone who wishes to sign-up must enable their location on their device. This brings up obvious risks for young people sharing their location online. Users also have the option to connect their Instagram account to their Yellow profile. (Webwise, 2017)
Teens using the Yellow app swipe right if they see someone they want to connect with and swipe left if they are not interested. This is the same method used by Tinder users to facilitate “hook-ups.” If both Yellow users swipe right on each other, their Snapchat identities are automatically added to their Yellow contact lists. Once the connection is made, the users can message each other though Yellow or through Snapchat. And, as we know, Snapchat messages can be deleted before parents are aware of their contents.
What makes the Yellow app so concerning is that it embodies one of the most dangerous aspects of social media: It allows teens the ability to easily meet people (strangers) outside their parent’s sphere of knowledge or control. If that did not sound dangerous enough, Yellow is matching you with another person geographically near them, facilitating face-to-face meetings. Yellow also connects to one of the most popular apps for teens: Snapchat. Snapchat (Cyber Safety Cop does not recommend minors use Snapchat) allows users to send each other photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds, something that has previously caused concern with parents around sexting.
What parents need to know
Yellow is rated 12+ on iTunes for: Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, and Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes.
Users can report other profiles, this can be done simply by clicking on the flag icon in the top left corner of the profile you wish to report. The app will then ask users to select a reason for the report from a list of options.
Privacy and Terms of Service
At the time of writing this article there was no clear information available on the Yellow website or in the within the app about terms of service and privacy, which is concerning. This is not unusual, as new apps scramble to get out on the market, app creators tend to deal with safety issues as they arise rather than in the design phase. We always recommend reading terms of service and privacy information before downloading any app.
Advice for parents
It is important for parents to be aware of what apps and social networks their child is using.
Yellow app is not safe for children of any age. We are very disappointed Yellow is rated 12+, a more appropriate rating would be 17+. Yellow, like all apps, does not have an age verification. Parents should be using parental controls on their child’s device and password protect their child’s ability to download apps.
If you need help making your child’s devices safe, take a look at Clayton Cranford’s book, Parenting in a Digital World. It will walk you step-by-step through the process of making all of your child’s devices safe, as well as providing you important parenting tips to better supervise your child’s digital world.