It’s very important to stay on top of social media trends, especially when children are using these sites or apps to harass and bully each other. Tracking new/popular apps where teens have ramped up usage to hurl insults at one another is part of the process of educating yourself as to the positive and negative capabilities of the apps.

yikyak app icon

The Yik Yak app started on the campus of Furman University in South Carolina last fall, but its popularity has been spreading very quickly. While the founders (Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll) insist that it’s intended for college students and that anonymity means “the only thing you are judged on is the content that you have created,” Yik Yak has already caused some trouble on elementary, middle and high school campuses across the nation.

Yik Yak is an anonymous social chatting app that is location-based. The free app allows users to post anonymous comments that can be viewed by anyone who is within 5 miles of the person who posted it. Users can post nameless comments that others in their immediate vicinity can see. Often the comments are mundane observations about what is going on around users, but they could include harassing messages, answers to tests, threats, sexually explicit comments, hate speech, etc. When using Yik Yak, you can interact with others around you by posting Yaks, short snippets talking about absolutely anything, and see a live feed of Yaks from others in your local area. Yaks are limited to 200 characters, and you can’t post pictures. You can search for All-Time Greatest Yaks, Top Yaks in My Area, My Top Yaks, and Other Top Yaks. With Yik Yak, you can talk about anything and get “upvotes” if people like what you have to say or “downvotes” if they don’t. For a $0.99-$4.99 app upgrade, you can broaden your audience by gaining the ability to send Yaks to 1,000-10,000 recipients.

Like Snapchat, KIK and, which have received negative press over the past year regarding bullying problems, Yik Yak’s instant popularity stems from teens looking for ways to communicate away from the eyes of adults, who tend to gravitate toward Facebook and Twitter. Teens are always searching for the next best thing.

According to Yik Yak’s community use guidelines, the app shouldn’t be used for bullying or targeting of “other yakkers.” Users are advised to refrain from using people’s personal information (full names and phone numbers) and to “downvote” or report “useless or offensive Yaks.” Yik Yak’s terms of service state that users must be 17 years old to download the app.

“We rely on our communities to do the right thing,” the guidelines read. “You have the power.” Users who are continually reported will be warned, then suspended, according to the guidelines, which end with, “Spread the word to grow the herd. Ride the Yak.”

To report a cruel or offensive comment, the recipient may select the comment and click the “report inappropriate” button. A recipient may also take a screen shot of the comment and email it to

New apps are always going to be popping up. Just as users lose interest in one, developers come up with others to entice a new audience. The one thing we have the power to do as a community is to continue to be diligent about reinforcing the safe, effective and ethical use of social media apps and the Internet.