New chat app causes problems in middle schools, high schools

March 8, 2014 at 3:10 PM
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CHICAGO, March 8 (UPI) -- A new smartphone chatting application called Yik Yak is causing problems in middle schools and high schools across the United States, officials say.

The application, which launched less than four months ago, connects nearby users through their phones' Global Positioning System and puts them in anonymous chat rooms, CNN reported.

"The app was made for college-age users or above, for college campuses and to act as a virtual bulletin board, so it acts as local Twitter for their campus," said Yik Yak co-founder Brooks Buffington.

However, educators in middle schools and high schools say the application is causing disturbances in their classrooms. Yik Yak has been used for cyberbullying at schools in Chicago, officials said.

"Students were actually coming downstairs to talk to administration, and they were mentioning remarks posted and student names that were obvious, so of course that is going to impact you," said Melvin Soto, assistant vice principal at Whitney Young High School.

Students used the application to cause a bomb scare at San Clemente High School in Southern California, police said.

"The school was placed on lockdown, we conducted a sweep utilizing our bomb squad and bomb-sniffing dogs and nothing suspicious was located on or near the campus," Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jeff Hallock told CNN.

These types of incidents have prompted Yik Yak developers to disable it in some areas.

"One of the things we were planning to do is to essentially geo-sense every high school and middle school in America, so if they try to open the app in their school, it will say something like 'no, no no, looks like you are trying to open the app on a high school or middle school and this is only for college kids,' and it will disable it and the app won't work," Buffington told CNN.

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