Described as ‘Tinder for Teens’, the Yellow app allows users to make new friends using their Snapchat and Instagram accounts. According to media reports the app has been linked to a number of teen sexting incidents in Ireland recently. In this article we explain how Yellow works and address some concerns parents may have around the app.
How does it work?
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.
Like Tinder users can swipe right if they see someone they want to connect with or left if they are not interested. If both users swipe right, their Snapchat handles are automatically added to their Yellow contacts list. Once matched users can also message each other within the Yellow App.
What is concerning about the yellow app is that it makes it easy for young people to connect with people they don’t know on Snapchat. 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?
The app has an age rating of 17+ on the app store however settings on the app allow users under 17 to connect with people aged between 13-17. It is very easy to access the app using an incorrect date of birth. The lack of a robust age-verification tool poses a risk for young users and opportunities for predators.
(NOTE: There is also a version available for adults aged 18+.)
Warnings about inappropriate content can be found on the app store when downloading the app and include the following flags:
• Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
• Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
• Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humour
• Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
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. We would recommend exercising extreme caution with the Yellow app, parents need to consider whether the app is age appropriate for their child.