Although Tinder has turned out a number of successful relationships over the years (including mine), I'll be the first to tell you how sketchy using it could feel - the risks are just too many and I'd never want my teen on the app. However, a new, free app called "Yellow" is threatening to make that scary thought more of a reality, as many teens are reportedly using it to make new friends on social media.
Of course, apps like Snapchat and Instagram pose their own sets of risks, but there's something about Yellow's nature that makes it feel, well, different. Unlike other apps, Yellow actually wants - and makes it easy - to match your child with total strangers. It's advertised in the iTunes store with the tagline, "Make new friends," and has the classic Tinder swipe feature within the app to help tweens and teens find people to chat and exchange photos with. Although the app store says Yellow is intended for users 12 and up, when I downloaded it, I wasn't prompted to verify my age (not that that would stop most teens anyway).
Upon downloading, Yellow asks you for your phone number to text you a verification code, then you're prompted to enter your basic information: name, birthday, gender. To note, the default year on the birthdate slider was 2004, which would make the user 12 or 13 years old. After uploading a selfie, Yellow asks to use your location, which is mandatory to make it work. Finally, after a brief swiping tutorial, potential matches begin popping up; and this is where I got uncomfortable and stopped, as the first person I came across was a "23-year-old" who had added less-than-savory photos of himself to his profile.
So to summarize, Yellow will have your teen's phone number, location, personal information, access to photos, and will encourage your child to swipe left and right on strangers of various ages to then chat with and send photos to. And though the teen has control over who they swipe to match with, they have no control over the users that will pop up, whose photos could depict nudity or alcohol and drug usage (both of which I saw as soon as my first potential match popped up).
Being a parent in this age is so much more difficult than it was before cell phones and technology, but rather than lament over that fact, we must be proactive when it comes to our children's safety. Whether your teen is using Yellow or not, make some to time to talk to them about their online presence. Additionally, put into motion these tips on raising safe and smart kids and read up on ways to monitor your child's online activities.