Parents’ guide: What is Yolo app and is it safe?

YOLO app logo

The Yolo hit the headlines in 2021 following its suspension. Below we’ve provided advice on what parents need to know about the app and summarised some safety tips.

NOTE: this app is discontinued.

Look out for YOLO copycat apps

Now that YOLO is discontinued, some copycat apps have taken its place. Searching the Google Play or Apple stores, users can find apps called YOLO. However, these are not the original apps and are not owned by Popshow Inc. or YOLO Technologies, Inc, which are the original creators.

As such, if your child has a YOLO app on their smartphone, they might be open to greater risks and not realise it.

Learn about the similar sendit and other companion apps here.

What is the YOLO app and how does it work?

YOLO which stands for ‘You Only Live Once’ was an anonymous question and answers (Q&A) companion app used within Snapchat. It let Snapchat users request and send anonymous messages from their friends or from the public (depending on a user’s privacy settings).

When someone sent an anonymous question, only the receiver would see the response. However, they could choose to share it on their feed.

The app was created by a company called Popshow Inc. It was one of the first apps built by Snap Kit, which is a tool for smaller companies to get involved in Snap’s network. Although it worked with Snapchat, it was not owned or affiliated with Snap.

What is the age rating?

According to OnYOLO’s terms and conditions, the minimum age to use the YOLO app was 13+. Under 18s needed permission from a parent or legal guardian to use the app.

The app’s minimum age rating on the Apple App Store was raised from 12+ to 17+ and was given a PEGI rating of 18 on the Google Play Store.

The app is no longer available to download.

Why is YOLO popular with teens?

One reason for its rise to fame was its link to Snapchat. The “ask me anything” or “send me anonymous messages” follows a similar format to other Q&A apps such as Ask.FM, Sarahah, and Whisper.

YOLO became the most downloaded iPhone app in the UK and US one week after its release in 2019. Apps like Sendit have taken its place.

What are some concerns with YOLO?

Media coverage in 2021 regarding a tragic incident where a life was lost due to a result of cyberbullying on the app led its suspension and discontinuation.

Although the app’s intended use was to send and receive questions and answers anonymously, due to the format, it opened up users to harmful risks such as cyberbullying and trolling, harassment, hate speech and other inappropriate behavior.

According to reviews on Common Sense Media, a parent said “… awful inappropriate comments people leave I was absolutely disgusted!!! Teenagers can be mean & this is not an app A teenager should have”.

Another review said “This app is plain and simply a cyber bullying app among children and adults”

A spokesperson from Snap Inc (owners of Snapchat) told HuffPost UK: “While YOLO is not owned or affiliated with Snap in any way, we believe that privacy and security are essential to honest self-expression and this philosophy is key to every product that we create.”

“Our Snap Kit partners agree not only to our privacy policy but also our community guidelines which clearly lay out behaviour and content that isn’t tolerated on our platform”.

Are there any safety features?

There were no parental controls, privacy or location settings. Nor was there any safety information available for parents as the app relied on settings within Snapchat.

However, you could report content on YOLO via the ‘Report inappropriate content’ button.

Parental controls

Learn how to set privacy and safety settings on the Snapchat social platform to help your child have a safer experience.

See guide

Tips for staying safe

Talk to your kids about cyberbullying

Users can leave comments on videos posted so, this may leave your child open to receiving negative messages. Giving them guidance about what to do if they are cyberbullied or see others being cyberbullied will help them to keep themselves safe.

Review privacy settings

Check out the fine print. Yolo says it may access your contact list and will collect information about the content you post, including groups you belong to, interactions with friends, and live videos.

Know age ratings

Yolo is aimed at kids 13+ with parental guidance if under 18. Take a look at our minimum apps guide if you’re unsure about a particular apps age rating.

Use available parental controls

If you don’t want your child to download Yolo or similar apps, you can turn off access to the App or Google Play Store. Check out our parental controls for how to do this.

Report abuse

You can make a report to one of CEOP’s Child Protection Advisors if you are worried about online sexual abuse, or the way someone has been communicating with your child online.

Recent posts