The purpose of this message is to make you aware of the shared concerns about the social media platform “YIK YAK.” Founded in 2013, this platform has been banned in most of the United States for the last four years for its inability to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, and threatening behaviors that occur on its platform. YIK YAK allows users to anonymously post messages, and anyone with the app on their phone located within 5 square miles of the person that posted a message will receive the posts. To be clear, anyone with the YIK YAK app on their phone living in or around Rochester is receiving messages posted by anonymous users.
This app has previously been banned because of the destructive nature anonymity allows when the users post troubling messages about other students and topics that are not appropriate. The types of messages that our students, our children, receive range from body shaming, spreading rumors, threats of violence, and encouragement to commit suicide. Posts I have viewed from my previous experience in dealing with this app would alarm any parent.
We can all acknowledge that there are both positive and negative aspects of social media, but in looking specifically at YIK YAK the negative far outweighs the positive. There is no room in the lives of our students, our families, and our school community that comes with the negativity from this platform.
While there is an appearance of anonymity, nothing said online is anonymous. YIK YAK accounts are created by entering a cell phone number which can be used to identify users. I encourage all of our parents and families to monitor and have conversations with our children regarding their digital citizenship. It is important that our children know and understand that nothing online is anonymous and that what is said online, at any age, can have a lifelong impact. All incidents of cyberbullying, harassment, and threats will be taken seriously. (BOE Policy 7:180) Consequences will be issued and charges will be filed. Rochester CUSD #3a has blocked the Yik Yak website so that it is not able to be accessed through the school network. I further encourage you to talk to your children about the dangers of this platform and consider deleting it from their devices.
At Rochester Schools, digital citizenship and internet safety are a part of our curriculum, but it is important to continue the conversation at home. We encourage you to talk to your children about what they do online, appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, expectations, potential consequences, and overall healthy online behaviors that will serve them well in all areas of life.
Please visit https://staysafeonline.org/get-involved/at-home/raising-digital-citizens/ for tips and resources.
Be the Difference,
Dan W. Cox, Superintendent