The UK charity, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has issued a stark warning about the dangers of the enormously popular Yolo app which is a free download.

Yolo is used as a way for users to anonymously ask questions to Snapchat users.  People who receive the questions can then post them on their Snapchat Stories. This allows followers to see the responses and helps encourage the spread of the app.

However the NSPCC warns that such anonymous apps can be easily misused to send abusive messages to others or by those looking to exploit young people.

It added that these types of apps are becoming increasingly popular among children yet their very anonymity is a magnet for predators and bullies and those who want to send abusive of upsetting messages.

The NSPCC is calling on the UK government to establish an independent regulator that will have the powers to make tech companies consider the risks that their services pose for children.

The Yolo app, which is an acronym for ‘You only live once,’ was developed using Snap Kit, a piece of software provided by Snapchat that enables app developers to integrate their own products with the popular social network.

The Wild West

Last year the NSPCC surveyed 2,059 children and 2,049 parents for a young people’s social media guide.  It asked children and parents about violent, bullying or adult content on social networking sites and games used by children and young people. The research revealed:
  • 1 in 4 young people have been contacted over social media by an adult they didn’t know. A  third of those contacted were children under 13
  • Facebook, YouTube and Grand Theft Auto: San Andrea were the only sites to be ranked high risk for all three of the categories violent, bullying and adult content
  • Twitter and Reddit also ranked highly for inappropriate content
  • The top 15 risky platforms included lesser known sites, such as Sarahah, Omegle and Yubo
  • Two in three young people know how to perform safety functions, including reporting, blocking users, and changing privacy and location settings.

Clearly the threats for youngsters on social media are alive and real, whether the dangers are direct or indirect. One of those surveyed, a 16 year old girl said: “When you’re watching a video of something like a makeup artist, a video can be at the side of something completely different that could be sexual/hurtful or anything else. It’s easy to get yourself into a bad video.” A 13 year old girl said about Facebook: “I don’t like that just random people can send you a friend request.”

It’s hard for parents to keep up to speed with everything there child does online, the sites they visit and the social platforms they use. Facebook is increasingly ignored by youngsters, they think it’s a platform for their parents. Instagram and Snapchat are the platforms they tend to gravitate towards.

Alongside award-winning malware protection and industry-leading identity theft safeguards BullGuard Premium Protection provides robust but discrete parental controls. These controls enable parents and carers to filter what children are exposed to as well as flagging stranger danger alerts. It is powerful tool to safeguard the kids against abusive messages and disturbing content.