Out of nowhere, the anonymous feedback app YOLO has shot up to the second most popular downloaded app.
Take a look at this:
This app has become extremely popular among teens and prior to May it wasn’t even available.
Within 30 days it been downloaded over 5 million times and has been reviewed by over 189,599 people as of today.
I asked my teens about this and some of their friends, and what they shared was crazy. More on that in a moment.
First, let’s review what this anonymous feedback app is and then what we should do as parents.
What Is YOLO The Anonymous Feedback App
YOLO is similar to the anonymous feedback app Sarahah.
It’s an anonymous question app that integrates with Snapchat and is very easy to use.
Once you click login with Snapchat, you’ll first have to agree to their terms of service, as shown in this popup:
This is where it gets interesting because as you can see they say they have no tolerance for abusive users and that they’ll ban them, but that hasn’t been the case according to several reviews online.
In-fact, here’s a sample of a random question they suggest asking:
Now use your imagination of how you think Teenage boys or girls might respond?
What We Should Do As Parents
Our belief, after speaking with several psychologists and the fact that it’s today’s culture, is it’s okay to give children mobile devices. With that said, it’s crucial that we educate them and check in with them frequently, both emotionally and safety wise. An app isn’t a parent, it takes meaningful conversations frequently to keep our kids safe and emotionally fit.
The YOLO App and others are a bit different, though.
Anonymous apps are notorious for bullying and many have been shut down because of inappropriate use.
When receiving anonymous feedback, it can lead to unhealthy thoughts and habits.
As parents, we should check in with our children frequently (daily) to really see how they’re doing emotionally.
Yes, asking how school went today or how their best friend is doing is great, but we also need to pull back the curtain further to ensure nothing is bothering them that they might not be telling us.
If you have a moment, watch Jason Reid’s TedX Talk here where he shares a story no parent wants to live. His son died by suicide at the young age of just 14 and like most parents, his never saw this coming.
Jason and his wife have been married 25 years, they ate family dinners together, traveled, lived a good life and their son was a great student.
You’ll see 12 minutes into this video how he wishes he was a bit more vulnerable personally so just maybe, his son would open up and talk. They didn’t have those conversations and that’s why it’s important we do.
Jason and his wife started Chooselife.org which has a mission to END TEEN SUICIDE BY 2030! As I’ve shared in previous posts before, 1 in 6 children will contemplate committing suicide and 2 out of 100 will attempt it. Most parents, don’t see it coming.
We live in a different time. Our children’s self-confidence is being impacted daily by:
- The Negative Media
- Social Media
- Education System (Standardized Testing)
- Marketers (a $5 cup of coffee is normal today)
Apps like YOLO and any other anonymous question-like apps (even the ones coming in the future) will impact our children emotionally.
Remember, the teenage brain is not developed yet as Dr. Jess Shatkin has shared with us in previous interviews, and thus kids can’t fully make rational decisions. If they’re receiving consistent negative feedback (we all do at times), we need to make sure that they know how to manage this.
In speaking with Mazu, a kids app built for families teaching good digital citizenship, they had this to share about YOLO:
“The anonymous nature of the Yolo app is concerning for parents. Bullying, harassment, and inappropriate content are more likely to occur in this type of environment. We recommend reminding children to be kind online and to help them create positive digital citizenship skills.”
Conclusion: Should Kids Have Anonymous Feedback Apps
Any parent who contemplates questions like this is a good parent in my opinion. There is no right or wrong answer as we’re all living through the same test as parents and the results aren’t seen for years.
In discussing this app with my kids and many of their teenage friends, they all seemed to dislike the feature of it being anonymous, yet the downloads and it being #1 in the App store for over a month shows many kids are using it.
My son, who’s 17, said: “If you’re ‘Stupid’ enough to ask for anonymous feedback, be prepared.”
My one daughter, who’s 15, said: “Why would someone ask for feedback, knowing some people will be negative and that’ll make me unhappy?”
Lastly my youngest daughter, who’s 13 shared: “You’re just asking for trouble. Why would you want feedback from someone anonymously?”
My suggestion is you check in and see if your child has used it to either receive feedback or if they’ve provided feedback.
If they have used it, instead of asking “if they received negative feedback,” assume they have and instead ask “what are a few of the negative comments you’ve had?”
Ask how they deal with negative feedback. You may also want to address why your child would want outside validation or opinions anonymously.
The more we have conversations with our children around these serious topics, the more open they’ll be with us.
This app, in my opinion, adds no value to our children, smells of only danger, and doesn’t make for the social experience we’d want for ourselves or our children.
After having this conversation with your child, jump on over in our Parent Facebook group and share feedback with other parents. Click here to join in on the discussion and I’ll see you over on Facebook.