Should you let your teenager on Yellow app, the new flirting/dating site used by over 7 million generation Z’s and dubbed the Tinder for young people?
Well the short answer is, not if you don’t want your child judged purely by aesthetics and not if you don’t want them asked every other minute to send out some nudes to random strangers.
But let’s look at some facts first.
Yellow works very much in the same way as the adult dating site Tinder. Essentially you view a stream of photos of people within whatever geographical location you decide and then you choose your potential suitors based on their profile pic and swipe left or right depending on whether said pic floats your boat. If they like you in return, voila, you have a match and can go ahead messaging each other, chatting and arranging a time to ‘hook up’.
Now the great thing about this app for many is the ability to connect it to your Snapchat account. Snapchat is probably the most popular social media site for young people right now but it is difficult to find new friends unless you know their username. With Yellow, any matches you make can be automatically added to your Snapchat contact list, thus being a win win for everyone.
Now online dating is certainly nothing new. In fact most would now see it as far more favourable to meet someone based on interests and likes and lifestyle and spend time getting to know each other online before meeting, as opposed to hanging out in seedy bars and clubs and putting up with drunks and music that no longer has any lyrics.
What we have with apps like Yellow however, is that it is targeted at a young audience between 13-17. Like most apps there is no verification needed. Just an email address, a phone number and a profile pic and you are on your way. The problem with these apps comes back to the content, the messages and the explicit nature of many users and their requests.
When I ask the original question should you let your child on Yellow however, the question is a little bit obsolete. Why? Because most parents don’t know the app exists and for the rest who do, they have little control over what apps their child is visiting. Unless they have systems that tell them exactly what is downloaded on their device, then they also have no way of knowing if they are downloading and deleting the app when devices are checked. Now if your child is 13 you should still have a say in what they are doing online. A 16 or 17 year old however can be a very different story.
So what do we do?
Once again we talk to our teens about these apps and explain some of the ways they are being used and what that could mean for them. For example, we let them know
- anybody can pretend they are someone they are not. It doesn’t take much to find a photo online and add your name and age to be whoever you like.
- These places obviously become havens for pedophiles who have a smorgasboard of willing young people trying to impress with sexy poses, pouts and profile pics.
- Young people are seeing plenty of content that is inappropriate for their ages.
- Teens as young as 13 (and quite probably younger) are asking for nudes and sending them out.
- Emoji’s make up a huge component of the ‘conversation’. For example the aubergine refers to mens genitalia, the purple devil is code for “lets sext” and a surprised cat means “I want to see you naked’. So talking about how to respond to these requests may be something your child needs some help with.
Ultimately we want them to know they are worth so much more than their looks alone and they do not need validation from strangers. We want them to experience the joy of dating and starting relationships based on who they are and not their willingness, or not, to send a naked pic.
I do always say that it is not the technology that brings people undone but it is the way people behave with the technology. I am sure some great friendships and relationships have started on Yellow just as I know many have on Tinder. It may also be a very valid way for those isolated from others to meet new people or for those too shy to start talking to someone in real life to gain the courage via the keyboard. But when our children are still young we need to look at the type of content and messages they are being exposed to. The idea of disposable relationships, the language used to describe potential dates and the self esteem issues that can arise all need to be discussed.
This is not the first and will not be the last app of its type. So remember to focus on your child, the skills they need and the real life relationships they can foster to give them a healthy view of who they are and who they need in their world.