If Ask.FM taught the world anything, it was that teenagers and the ability to remain anonymous cannot be mixed. In the summer of 2013, the popular Q&A web site became known worldwide after a series of bullying related suicides. Despite the public outcry, the site’s developers refused to aide in the investigation into instances of bullying and threats.
Social App newcomer, Yik Yak, found themselves being compared to the infamous Ask.FM this past week when stories of threats of violence and bullying caught the nation’s attention.
(Check out What Parents Should Know About Yik Yak to learn more about the app)
The app has been linked to the arrest of an Alabama teen for threatening to shoot someone, countless bullying incidents and bomb threats at schools in California, Georgia and Massachusetts.
Unlike it’s anonymous predecessor, the developer’s at Yik Yak have heard and responded accordingly to the outcry of parents and educators over the last week.
In what can only be described as an unprecedented move, Yik Yak has teamed with Maponics to license GPS data for over 100,000 public and private schools in the US. Using this data they are creating “geofences” around middle and high schools which will actually disable the use of the app while the users is within that area.
As of early Thursday, these fences have gone live. In a statement, developer Brooks Buffington noted, “If for some reason the app is still accessible on a school’s grounds, all they need do is email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll look into it ASAP.”
While I applaud this bold move by the developers, I see this as band aid on a knife wound.
Students will still have access to the app once they leave school grounds and the possibility of bullying, rumors and threats still exist.
It is worth noting for parents that the app is rated 17+ or mature. I encourage parents to set restrictions on their children’s devices to ensure they are not able to download these apps.
Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com
You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.