Monday, 3 October 2016

"Geo Fencing" (Disabling) YIK and YAK in schools

Really useful advice received via Margaret Griffiths, DP Dunmore CS, for schools in Galway Roscommon area but is applicable to all schools.

Re: Internet Safety

Dear Principal,

Galway and Roscommon Children and Young People’s Services Committees (CYPSC’s) are interagency structures comprising of statutory, voluntary and community organisations and agencies that provide a broad range of services to children and young people within their county area. CYPSC are tasked with co-ordinating service delivery in line with the national outcomes for children and young people as set out in “Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014- 2020 (Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 2014).

One of the actions for Galway and Roscommon CYPSC’s was to improve the co-ordination of Internet Safety and cyber-bullying programmes and initiatives in both counties. A subgroup has been established comprising of many of the stakeholders, and Margaret Griffiths, Vice Principal, Dunmore Community College is representing post primary schools. Part of the work of the subgroup is to share information, and as a result it has come to our attention that many children and young people in secondary schools are using an App on their phones called YIK-YAK. This App allows a user to get a live feed of what people are saying around them. What differentiates YIK-YAK from other anonymous messaging Apps is that it is location based. The App combines GPS and instant messaging technologies to allow users to share what people are talking about within a ten-mile radius. For this reason the App has become a particularly popular source of news and gossip in school, and as it is completely anonymous, it leads to increased opportunities for cyber-bullying and on line abuse to occur in real time.

However, one of the features of YIK YAK is that schools can request to have their location ‘geo-fenced’ so that the App is disabled when the user is on school property. This is a very simple process and can be done by logging onto and filling in the details on the page. Once this is done, the App cannot be used on the school property and a message will appear advising users of this.

We are encouraging all schools in Galway and Roscommon to avail of this feature and ensure their school is ‘geo-fenced’ as this may go some way to reducing instances of cyber-bullying.

We hope this information is of use to you.

Kind Regards,

Caroline Duignan

Children and Young People’s Services Committee Co-ordinator, Galway and Roscommon