Social media is both a blessing and a curse, isn't it? It allows us to stay connected to so many people all over the world, and helps us build invaluable networks of support and friendship. It gives us memes! And GIFs! For a lot of people, social media is how they stay up-to-date with news and current events. And many of us would be pretty lost without it. But it can also be treacherous to navigate. For every good person you encounter online, there are four others who are downright vile. It's home to anonymous trolls who get their kicks from trying to break people down. For all the good it brings to people, it can also destroy lives and open people up to abuse and danger. It's hard enough for adults to navigate the landscape of social media, but in tween and teen hands, it can go very bad, very quickly. The rise of social media use has been linked to a rise in online bullying, often with tragic results.
However, it's incredibly popular with tweens and teens, so many parents choose to allow their kids to use it with supervision. The supervision, however, has to be diligent. It seems like a new app comes out every single day, and some of them definitely need our attention, like this new YOLO app linked to Snapchat. If your kids use Snapchat, you're going to want to read this.
YOLO is a Snapchat-linked app that has exploded onto the social media scene. In the couple of weeks since its release, it's become the most downloaded iPhone app in the country. But what is it, exactly? Basically, users can connect YOLO to their Snapchat accounts, and invite followers to send comments, pictures, or ask questions. The users can then choose to respond to the comments or questions in their stories. The catch is, it's all completely anonymous. Even if the person asking a question is one of your followers, anything that comes through on YOLO is anonymous.
As you can imagine, this can go sideways REALLY FAST. Sure, their friends will send comments like "U so cute!" But it also opens the user up to abusive, hateful, and inappropriate comments and imagery. And again, it's all completely anonymous. There is a warning on the YOLO app that says users reported for inappropriate behavior will have their identities revealed. However, users say that isn't the case, and if a comment is reported, it simply disappears. Furthermore, reports suggest that the safeguards are not working, and the YOLO support team has not been responding to flagged content.
There are also some privacy concerns with the app. The Terms of Service say that the app may collect and store personal data, including name, address, and photo. The age rating for YOLO is 12+, which seems way too young for this type of content. In the right hands, YOLO can be perfectly harmless, and likely a lot of fun for your tweens and teens. But too often, these things fall into the wrong hands. Sit your kids down and talk to them about the app, and if you have concerns, don't let them use it. Better safe than sorry, and when it comes to social media use, our safety is in our own hands.