The latest app craze to sweep the tween and teen world is Snapchat’s add on app, Yolo. Acronym for “You Only Live Once”.
How does Yolo work?
Yolo Q & A, is a free app that works in conjunction with your snapchat account. It is an anonymous feedback app that allows users to receive and respond to questions from their Snapchat friends. As it is an ‘add on’ to Snapchat, you must have Snapchat to be able to use it. An “ask me anything’ sticker can be aded to your Snapchat Story. Friends then swipe up to open Yolo and send an anonymous question that you answer via another sticker posted to your story.
A record of both the questions and responses are kept. You read the response privately but can choose to make the responses public.
There have been other similar anonymous sharing apps such as Ask.Fm, Qooh.Me, Whisper, Sarahah. These apps were stand alone apps, many not lasting the distance due to the disproportionate amount of bullying. Sarahah was a popular app removed from the app store last year for this reason.
What is the age recommendation of Yolo?
The app is rated 17+ in the app store.
Is Yolo safe for kids?
With a rating of 17+ it can safely be said it is not created with kids in mind. Like all social networks and like all online experiences however, it very much comes back to the behaviours and how one uses the app as well as the effects those behaviours and experiences have on the individual. The anonymous element to this app however, does make it a haven for bullying and sometimes brutally honest comments.
Some say that it allows people to reveal struggles, help make decisions, request advice and enjoy the therapeutic benefit of getting things off your chest.
The downside however, is the risk of cyberbullying, racism, hate speech and every other ‘ism’ going around. If there is no repercussion for people, then it is a lot easier to say whatever you like, be it truth, shock value or plain nastiness.
What safety features are there?
You can block and report people. If someone is sending an abusive response the algorithms are supposed to pick this up and the terms and conditions state that “objectionable content “ will not be tolerated. We are yet to see how effective this is. If you report a comment however, that comment should be taken down.
What concerns should parents have with YOLO?
The concerns obviously come from the nature of the responses to your questions. We cannot control how other people respond and so we must be prepared to deal with the comments that may come our way. The question of who our young people are allowing to make judgements about themselves could be an issue that should be explored. Aside from who we give that permission to, what we do with those opinions, how we take them on board and whether we have a solid understanding of our own self worth regardless of the response we get to online banter, are all conversations that are worth engaging in with young people.
The only difference this app ads to snapchat is the anonymous element. One must ask how often anonymity is used for good. For me, I would say the likelihood of this being used in a negative way probably outweighs any positive elements of the app, but again this can depend on the individual and the behaviours of their ‘friends’.
Some of the issues we want young people to think about if using these types of anonymous feedback apps are:
Who they are getting their feedback from?
What is the value for them?
How will they deal with negative feedback?
What sorts of questions shouldn’t you be asking, or would likely open you up for negative feedback?
Remind them that words have power even if they are anonymous.
Your young person may well be able to have some fun with this and not have any ill effects, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on if your child is constantly looking for peer validation in this way.
For more ways to help ourselves and our kids remain in control of their online behaviours, you can grab a copy of my latest book The Modern Parent: Raising a Great Kid in the Digital World”. Available as a hard copy paperback or as a PDF.