"Tinder for Kids," warning for parents about app gaining popularity

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 18:01:25-05

Commonly known as the "Tinder for Kids," it makes sense this hot new smartphone app has caught the FBI's attention.

It's called Yellow and it's a smartphone app that allows a user connect with people with a quick swipe. Once they're connected, Yellow users can swap messages, even pictures - similar to the popular dating app Tinder. Except it's primarily teens using it. 

"Here comes Yellow, it takes the place of Tinder, it's exactly the same," Rhonda Porter, General Counsel for Akron City Schools, said.

Marketing itself as a place to "make new friends," Yellow reports seven million users worldwide, and Porter told News 5, teens in Northeast Ohio area are on it. 

"I'm keeping it real! Absolutely they're using it," she said. 

But what's adding to concern? There's no age verification system- meaning, nothing is in place to stop an adult from posing as a much younger user.

"We're now in a stage where adults are using it to target students and to groom them. And grooming only leads to one conclusion. That's a sexual encounter with a child," Rhonda Porter told News 5. 

It's not something we'd typically do, but to test the app and demonstrate just how easy it is, News 5 set up a Yellow profile- as a 13-year-old girl. We never to prove our age. In a matter of seconds, we were prompted to connect with a 15-year-old boy.

"It's very easy to put in a fake birthday and portray yourself as a 15-year-old boy that plays football at the high school," Special Agent Vicki Anderson with the Cleveland FBI told News 5. 

Anderson told News 5 it's tough to investigate an app, and while social media apps aren't inherently 'bad,' the FBI is familiar with many of them and often times checks apps immediately during a missing child investigation. 

She shared a message for parents. 

"It's an important time to warn parents- you need to be parents. Be nosy. You need to know who you're kids are talking to and what information they're putting online," Anderson said.

Yellow's developers have said they are working on an update to make it more difficult for users to change their birthdate.

News 5 deleted the account and the app after creating it for this story.