Tinder is great for those who are 18 years of age and older, looking to find love in all the right (or wrong, depending on who you ask) places. Gone are the days when you would actually meet another human, in person, and it’s either love at first sight or an awkward couple hours. Meeting people online or through an app, embarking on digital dating, that’s how it works nowadays.
So for those who are younger, and arguably more tech-savvy, it seems the same goes for them. Instead of finding friends or young love at school, during after-school activities, at the mall, or at a part-time job, kids who are aged 13 to 17 now have their very own app to turn to if they want to meet new people. And that’s worrisome.
Yellow is the second most popular free lifestyle app (after Tinder) on the Apple app store in the U.K., The Telegraph reports, and it’s quickly catching on around the world. Like, where you are reading this right now. Yellow targets guys and girls who are 13- to 17-year-old who are looking to connect with other kids their age. Which is lovely — in theory. But it also means it’s very possible for a 17-year-old to swipe right for a 13-year-old. Or arguably much, much worse, a pervert pretending to be a 17-year-old swiping right for a 13-year-old. Because unlike Tinder, Yellow has no checks in place to verify ages, meaning any stranger can add your child. And vice versa.
That means photos can be exchanged — even if two people have never physically met. Teens who sign up for it probably aren’t worried because they don’t have a care in the world, but considering it’s been dubbed the “Tinder for Teens,” and has a reported five million users to date, let’s leave it to the parents to freak out.
“Any app that allows strangers to send photos to children or vice versa is troubling,” a spokesperson for the U.K.’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children told The Telegraph. “Yellow’s settings that enable adults to view children, through a service blatantly aimed at flirting and relationships, also creates an opportunity for sexual predators to target young people. This needs to be urgently addressed.”
Yellow is reportedly working on a solution to this glaring problem, but for now, children are just supposed to trust that the person they’re connecting with is genuinely under 18. And that’s not OK.
While the intentions of many of Yellow’s users are innocent enough, not everyone’s are. Whether it’s someone pretending to be a teen, or simply a teenage dirtbag ready to take advantage of this app, it’s enough to make any parent’s skin crawl.
But how will a parent monitor their kid’s phone to ensure they’re using the app safely? Does Mom or Dad delete it, ban it, whatever, so they can’t use it? These are questions only parents can answer.
We do know it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, and if your kid is spending too much time with their face buried in their phone and not enough time talking, get in there and check if everything’s OK. Because while trust goes both ways, you’re the parent, they’re the kid and if you feel like something’s off, and it’s in their best interest, it’s your job to make damn sure everything’s on the up and up.