If I were single, 25 years old, and looking to meet a cute guy who lived or worked near me for a spontaneous drink and let's see where the night takes us..... I might use the dating app Tinder. At 25 I hope I would be able to discern a creep from a cutie, know to protect my privacy by not giving out any personal information and be prepared for a quick escape plan should I need it! A teenager not so much.
There's a new app in town, or at least a newly named app YUBO formally YELLOW. This is the icon:
Does your teen have this app on his/her phone?? DELETE IT!! It is Tinder for the teen set. You know, swipe left if you like me, swipe right if you don't. If we both like each other the future is ours for the swiping!! You know what, the future is the best thing your teen has going for them. A future as a young adult when they have the experience and judgment to handle the boundary free journey that these dating apps take you on and challenge you to stay safe on. But as a teenager, there is no such experience yet, and there is no mature judgment because they are still in the "firsts" of what it means to get to know another person with romantic or sexual goals in mind. There may have been no real life lessons yet about the good, the bad and the ugly about dating. The "awesomeness of someone thinking you are "hot" or "cute"is just too much to turn down! This can be an enticing app for those teens who love attention, and what teen doesn't. Talk about validation!!! If you have been the shy guy or girl, or feel that the kids in your school are just not your people, this app can be especially desirable, giving a teen the opportunity to try out a whole new persona, knowing this person doesn't know them as the awkward or quiet kid from their history class. It can be a heady fresh start!!
A major danger of this app is that it connects to instagram and snapchat once the two parties have both "chosen" each other, which gives access to all kinds of personal information. As you can imagine this over sharing of information to strangers is not safe, and of course you can bet that there are many predators out there salivating at the thought of these naive and trusting kids.
A parent recently wrote to me about this app and correctly thought it was definitely not a good thing. Her husband, though, thought it was a great way for their son to "practice" talking to girls! But as you can imagine, much drama can ensue!!! There is temptation for these "faux" relationships to get intense and intimate and since parents have no idea they are even going on, they are powerless to supervise and set appropriate boundaries around the relationship. And honestly, our world is superficial enough, do we need to start kids at 13 swiping and choosing potential crushes based completely and solely on looks and photoshopped photos! What kind of message does that send?
Ok, so you can obviously tell that I think this app is a no no! If your teen has already downloaded, take them to this site: protectyoungeyes.com and scroll down to the YUBO app review. This way it is an expert telling them it's bad not their parent! At this point, a simple "this is not a safe app, I get you are disappointed but it is my job to keep you safe until you have the experience to do that for yourself." End of story, you don't have to say anything more. I have said this before, your teen's phone should have parental controls on it so that they literally have to come to you to unlock the ability to download apps. When this is in place you won't have to go to the delete place. Taking something away from your teen that they are already attached to absolutely sucks...for you!!! Let's preempt that fight by you being in control of what goes on their phone in the first place!!
PS: I have a favor. I am working with a spectacular new partner who is a motivational speaker for teens and we are putting together a joint podcast. As we develop this project I would love to talk with parents about our concept and how we can best meet their needs. If you would be willing to do a 15 minute phone chat with me or fill out a short survey I would be eternally grateful, and would offer a 15 min coaching session as a thank you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or PM me on facebook. I look forward to hearing from many of you....please???