You might remember that in the early stages of the internet, finding a date online came with a certain stigma. The thought of finding your special someone in such an unconventional way just seemed strange. Oh, how things have changed!
Online dating has gone from an absolute last resort to one of the more standard ways of looking for love. But would you want your teenager using a dating app?
There is a popular app that has some people concerned for the well-being of children. It is called "Yellow" and is available for both Android and iOS gadgets. The creators of the app are marketing it as a way to meet new people around you and chat with them.
Why people are concerned
Yellow works in a similar way to the popular dating app, Tinder. It uses the GPS in your gadget to find people in your area.
Users then look at pictures from people in their area and swipe right for the profiles they like and left for the ones that they're not interested in. Once a connection is made, the two users can begin chatting. They can also send each other pictures and videos.
To be able to use the Tinder dating app, you have to verify your age. However, Yellow does not have a strict age verification process. There is a warning in the App Store stating you must be 17 years old to download the app but it's easy to get around that.
The company that created Yellow says it blocks people over the age of 18 from seeing profiles of those younger than 18, and vice versa. The problem is these rules can easily be bypassed by someone creating a profile using a fake date of birth.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is warning parents that predators could use this app to target minors.
An NSPCC spokesperson said, "Any app that allows strangers to send photos to children or vice versa is troubling - particularly where the images being exchanged are of a sexual nature. 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."
The developers of Yellow say they are addressing these concerns and will be updating the app. It sounds like their fix will only stop users from editing their date of birth after the app has been installed. If the person lies about their age at sign-up, the fix won't stop them.
If you are worried about the online safety of a teenager, here are a few steps you can take:
- Have open dialogue - Make sure you talk to your kids about online safety. Let them know the risks that come with being online and that they can speak with you anytime a problem arises.
- Set parental controls - Take advantage of the parental control setting on your child's gadgets. These will help keep them from accessing inappropriate online content.
- Install security software - You can guard against online risks with security software.