x

WQAD.com

Colleges worry smartphone app could promote cyber-bullying

At some schools, police have arrested students who’ve posted threats on Yik Yak.

Students aren't talking about it, because they don't need to.

Yik Yak is the newest member of the social media circle. It's similar to Twitter, but with two major differences. The user is anonymous and they can only post or see posts within a 10-mile radius of where they are located.

However, the anonymity can be hurtful or even dangerous. At some schools, police have arrested students who've posted threats on Yik Yak. There is also the fear that the app could become another form of cyber-bullying.

"We are always concerned for the safety and well-being of our students and bullying is one of those things that we are concerned about at Augustana," said Director of Public Relations at Augustana College, Sam Schlouch.

Schlouch says he uses the app as a way to keep an eye on what's being said on campus and if a post were ever to go from harmless to hurtful, he says they take it seriously.

"If there ever were a situation where a student brought something negative that they saw on Yik Yak to our attention, we would definitely look into it," said Schlouch.

Other area schools are also weighing in:

"I think the whole anonymous factor changes it a whole bunch, because you don't have to put your name on it so you can say things you wouldn't normally say to people," said Sophomore Nico Moreno, President of the Student Government Association at Western Illinois University's Quad Cities Campus. "You can say whatever you want."

"Hopefully students can be mature enough and responsible to not go after anyone else. If you have a problem, just either let it go or just confront someone about it. Let them know, but there's no reason to take it to the internet and make it a bigger deal than it really needs to be."

Moreno and Schlouch both say they don't think Yik Yak is a problem at their respective schools. Students say most of the posts are just meant to be funny, but they can see why some comments could be interpreted differently.

In a few states, some schools are banning the Yik Yak app or banning the use of cell phones in class.

In addition, police say anonymous is not really anonymous and if need be, they are able to work with the app's creators to find out who is posting what.