The New Richmond Exempted Village School District is closely monitoring the anonymous social media app Yik Yak and is banning it from use in the district.
Yik Yak is available for iOS and Android smart phones and allows users to anonymously create and view posts in a virtual message board within a 1.5 mile radius depending on how many other users are nearby.
YikYak has come under fire nationally as the new home of cyberbullying and incidents of cyberbullying have been detected by New Richmond administrators.
"Cyberbullying has already occurred,” said New Richmond Supt. Adam Bird. “Many disparaging, ugly, vulgar comments are being made about students and staff using Yik Yak."
Technically, the Yik Yak app is limited to people 17 years and older, but it’s still popular with younger high school students.
New Richmond relaxed its policy on use of cell phones in schools four years ago and may have to reconsider that move because of the Yik Yak app according to New Richmond High School principal Mark Bailey.
“They are allowed to use cell phones at lunch time and in the classroom for academic purposes and apparently that is not happening,” said Bailey. “We now have more than enough iPads and Chromebooks therefore the use of cell phones is no longer needed for research.”
Yik Yak has become a major problem with schools nationwide.
New York Magazine recently highlighted the chaos caused at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. The magazine article pointed out that one student wrote, “How long do we think before A. B. kills herself?” A high school in San Clemente, California was shut down this year after an anonymous bomb threat was posted on Yik Yak.
“I have several issues with Yik Yak,” said Bailey. “No. 1, we have students saying mean, hurting things to each other and about staff members. In my mind it is a form of cyber bullying.
“My second concern is that students seem to be on Yik Yak when they should be attending to instruction and learning. I would rather be working with staff and students to improve academics rather than focusing on issues like this.”
Supt. Bird noted that parents must get involved to stop cyberbullying.
“The use of Yik Yak is now being monitored by New Richmond schools and students should know that nothing on the Internet is completely anonymous,” said Bird. “But we only can control what goes on in our buildings, we need parents to help monitor their students use of Yik Yak.”