Experts in digital safety
It’s hard for anyone above Gen Z to really join in with new social media movements. If Mom, Dad, or Aunt Sheila don’t have a profile, how are they going to hear about it, after all? This explains how Yubo, in a social media world dominated by Facebook and TikTok, has managed to largely stay off the parent radar.
However, when an app is dubbed as “Tinder for kids”, it’s pretty safe to say that the idea of young children using it is enough to turn any parent green around the gills. So, just what is Yubo? And is the Yubo app safe for kids? Let’s dive in and learn everything parents need to know.
What is Yubo?
Yubo started out in 2015 as “Yellow”, designed as a way for young people to find new users on Snapchat. The French developers of the mobile app noticed something in particular about Snapchat users: because the network doesn’t make usernames public, they often published their Snap usernames on other social media profiles, hoping to meet new people and expand their friends list.
Yubo saw the opportunity to help connect these users, which is where its nickname as “Tinder for kids” came in. Users could swipe left or right, just like on the infamous dating app, to find a profile and get the user’s Snapchat details.
Fast forward to 2022, and Yubo is now a social media platform in its own right. In Yubo’s own words, it’s “a social live-streaming platform that celebrates the true essence of being young”. You can use it to livestream and connect with new people nearby, or from around the world, and chat with them in direct messages.
What is Yubo used for?
Unlike many social media platforms, Yubo’s focus isn’t on connecting with your own, real-life friends, but on making new ones using the app. In the mobile-only app, you can swipe left and right to connect with profiles and start chatting, much like on Tinder.
On initial setup, Yubo allows you to select “tags” that display your interests on your profile. This function lets you search by tag in addition to the swipe system, so you can connect and find new friends through shared interests. Unlike other social media apps, Yubo doesn’t have a “like” feature, and there’s no follower count either, placing the focus solely on your personal connections.
Yubo also has a livestream function, which allows you to host a streaming session on the app in real time. Up to 10 livestreamers can connect to the same session, while there’s no limit on the number of viewers you can have on the live video. If you’re viewing a livestream, you can send comments to the streamers in the session.
How old do you have to be to use Yubo?
The terms of service state that, like with most social media apps, you have to be 13 years old to use Yubo. If you’re between 13 and 17, you need permission from a legal guardian to set up a profile.
Yubo has two separate communities, divided by age – for teens, and adults. The two groups can’t interact with each other, for child safety reasons. This means that 13-year-old users can’t be connected with anyone over the age of 18, and vice versa.
To verify age, Yubo doesn’t ask for proof of identity, because many teens don’t have their own ID. Instead, the app uses a face detection integration, which opens up your front-facing camera and scans your face, to check that it matches with the age listed on your profile. The same integration also takes a short video to scan movement, checking that you’re not using an image pulled from Google or a fake photo.
Is Yubo a safe app for kids?
Teens and young adults who have grown up hyper-connected don’t often distinguish between offline and online friends. Yubo’s founders observed this trait in younger generations, and wanted to help users find these online friends, connecting them with people their own age, with similar interests.
It’s a great goal in theory, but in practice, the app falls short. Like any and all social media apps, Yubo comes with a significant amount of risk. Some of the unsafe aspects for kids include:
- The Yubo age verification process is not foolproof, which means kids face potential exposure to predators and adults posing as teens – a risk heightened even further through the app’s design, which prioritizes connecting with strangers over people you know.
- Livestreaming can encourage kids to give away personal information, and reveal daily habits and routines. Livestreaming allows others to have a window into your child’s life, which could open them to risks such as doxxing, where their personal information is leaked online, or them being found in the real world.
- Kids can be exposed to inappropriate content through livestreams, which are harder to moderate, or through chats with users on Yubo. Reports have been made of Yubo users using the platform to engage in sexting, reaching out to strangers for nudes and sexually charged conversations.
- Not everyone has pure intentions online, and kids can be approached by cyberbullies or online trolls through social media apps. On Yubo, teens and young people can easily be approached by strangers whose goal it is to harass and intimidate.
Qustodio’s final advice on Yubo
While Yubo’s intentions don’t seem to be half-bad, it’s important to remember that what a company states in their community guidelines and what really happens on a social media platform can be poles apart. There are some safety measures in place which try to make Yubo as healthy and positive as possible, but on social media, it’s impossible to guarantee a 100% secure experience. Some of these features include:
- The option to hide your profile from the swipe feature, and turn location tracking off
- Automatic blocking of nude and semi-nude pictures
- An algorithm that checks for fake accounts, like fake profile pictures and fake phone numbers
- Block and report features with fast response, for inappropriate livestreams, profiles, and content
- Human moderators for livestreams
Despite these security measures, we’d recommend Yubo for 18+ use only, or limited use for older teens with a mature outlook, who have demonstrated they are ready for social media and understand what they need to do if anything makes them feel uncomfortable online.
A parental control tool like Qustodio can help you to limit time on apps like Yubo, if you decide to let your child try it out, or block the app entirely if you believe it’s inappropriate for your teen. Ultimately, you know what’s best for your child and your family, but we’d strongly suggest treating the Yubo app with caution, and making sure your child understands the risks it poses to their healthy digital lifestyle.