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What you need to know about a new ‘anonymous’ app gaining popularity among teens

Cyberbullying is a major problem facing kids and now there’s a new app that is making this type of behavior easier. Parents are being warned to be on the lookout for this app on their children’s gadgets.

Called Yolo, the app works with Snapchat, and people communicate through a Q&A format. One feature of the app has experts particularly concerned.

Cases of bullying already are being reported. So what can you do to keep your child safe?

Yolo provides anonymity

The Yolo feature causing concern is that it provides users with a cloak of anonymity.

Yolo is a question-and-answer app that connects to Snapchat. The app is available on both iOS and Android gadgets, but it’s been downloaded millions of times from Apple’s App Store.

Friends can use the app to send comments and questions to each other, along with a photo. YOLO uses Snapchat for login and Bitmoji profile pics to let a user add an “ask me anything” sticker to their Snapchat Story. Snapchat users often link their accounts to Bitmoji.

However, the messages are shown as sent by “Someone.” Yolo doesn’t offer a way to identify users unless the users choose to reveal themselves privately to the person they sent the messages too.

That’s where Yolo’s bullying potential comes into play. With no way of telling who is sending the messages, bullies can prey upon other kids with no consequences.

Adding to the problem is the fact that Yolo is a hit. Since being released on May 2, the app has been downloaded more than 5 million times. On the Apple App store, Yolo has spent five weeks on the list of Top 10 apps, including two weeks at number one.

Yolo co-founder, Gregoire Henroin, said he paired the app with Snapchat because it is popular with teens. Anonymity also is a draw for kids. Henrion said he is aware that bullying can thrive in such an environment, but said Yolo is working to create a “healthy” community.

In its product description on the Apple App Store, Yolo states, “It has no tolerance for objectional content or abusive users. You’ll be banned for any inappropriate usage.”

Bullies already thriving on Yolo

While Yolo receives mostly positive reviews, a number of others are popping up with complaints about bullying.

“Since this app is anonymous, it is easy for bullies to set people up and frame people,” one reviewer wrote.

Another review states, “A lot of people are bullying me around here.”

There are reports that when bullies are flagged to Yolo admin, little if anything gets done to remove the offender.

Parents should be on high alert to see if this new app is being used by their kids. There are apps that allow you to monitor your children’s online activity and check to see what apps they have downloaded.

In addition, you may be surprised to learn there are other, non-social media ways kids are bullying each other through their computers and smartphones.

If you haven’t already, you should download a copy of Kim Komando’s Tech Safety Contract that helps parents and children come to an agreement about a variety of issues including monitoring online activity, GPS tracking and cyberbullying.

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