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

A summary of Yolo app from Online Safety Expert Wayne Denner

The Yolo app is the latest popular teen app to hit the headlines following fears that its anonymity feature could put young people at risk of cyberbullying and online abuse.

 

Like previous similar apps (Kik and Sarahah) the app allows teens to ask for ‘honest feedback’ in the form of anonymous replies to a question. Its rapid rise to the number one position in App Store only after a week of its launch reflects the appetite among young people for these types of apps.

Below we’ve provided the advice on what parents need to know about the app and summarised it’s safety features.

What is Yolo app?

Yolo which stands for ‘you only live once’ is an anonymous question and answer app that is used within Snapchat. Users can post anonymous questions and comments on a Snapchat story and also attached an image.

Once you have linked the app to a Snapchat account, it prompts you to ‘get anonymous messages’ and create a question to prompt others to ‘Send me honest messages’.

The app is available on iOS and Android devices.

What is the minimum age required to use the Yolo app?

The minimum age of use in the App store for the app has changed to be 17+. At launched it was set at 12+. On Google Play star it has been given a rating of PEGI 18.

Why has it become so popular with teens?

One reason for its rise to fame can be put to the fact that it’s an add-on to the very popular app among teens – Snapchat.

The makers of the Yolo were surprised by how quickly it went viral and climbed to the number one position in the App Store with little media attention.

What content is featured on the app?

There isn’t any content; the app only allows users one function to encourage others to send them anonymous messages in a Q&A format. When users post a question it can be seen by their friends or shared publically. Friends can review the question and send an anonymous message even if they don’t have Yolo installed.

Responses to questions are only seen by the person who asked the question rather than other users on the platform.

What risks should parents watch out for on the app?

As the app has changed its age rating to 18 and over, we’d advise parents to consider the implication of allowing children to use the app as it may not be age appropriate.

Also, like other anonymous apps before it, this feature on Yolo could encourage teen users to send malicious messages or create incidents of cyberbullying which parents should be aware of. As there is total anonymity teens may feel more able to send these messages as there is less fear of being caught, even though it goes against Yolo app  policy –  ‘YOLO has no tolerance for objectionable content or abusive users. You’ll be banned for any inappropriate usage.’

Why was it created (initial purpose)?

The purpose of the app is to allow users to anonymously ask questions to any other users through Snapchat.

Who created it?

Created by a small French 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 works with Snapchat it is not owned or affiliated with Snap.

Does it have any safety features in the app?

As it was created using Snap’s tools users on the app have to follow Snap’s Community Guidelines. This means that users can report bullying and harassment on Yolo through Snapchat reporting tools.

What do parents say about the app?

One parent common sense media gave their review of the app and said:

  • ‘Don’t go there
  • Random thoughts questions and opinions from unknown people. This could open up a world of hurt… isn’t there enough of that?’

How does it work?

The app can’t work without Snapchat. Users have to link their Snapchat account to the YOLO app in order to use it. Once they are linked, open the YOLO app and press ‘Get anonymous messages’. This will open Snapchat and users can choose to send a request to ‘send me honest messages’ to their friends or to their story. Friends can then send you anonymous messages and questions to which you can view on the YOLO app. Replies to these anonymous messages can also be posted to Snapchat.

How many people use the app?

No number on how many people uses the app but in May 2019 it was the most downloaded app in the UK and US.

What do creators of the app say about the app?

Gregoire Henrion said:

  • “We feel that anonymity can unlock super good behaviors.”
  • “We think we’re more empathic, more human than other anonymous apps before us.”
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

4 things you can do to keep them safe on the app

1. Talk to them 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.

2. Review privacy settings optionsrivate

By default, only friends you’ve added on Snapchat can contact you directly or view your Story. Ensure that this is set to Friends and not ‘Everyone‘.

3. Make sure they are Share Aware

Help them to think more carefully about what they post and who it may be seen by so that they protect themselves.

4. Get familiar with the community guidelines

To make sure you know what is and isn’t accepted on the app you and your child can read through the guidelines to help them to be informed about what they can and can’t do on the app.

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