“Gas” app helps students connect in unique ways

Gas is an app where students can answer polls on their peers.

Photo credit: Find Your Crush app developer

“Gas” is an app where students can answer polls on their peers.

Grace Metz, Staff Writer

Post-pandemic Hayes High School has learned to reconnect in more ways than one. Extracurricular programs, sports and clubs have become prominent factors in students’ lives.
However, the omnipresence of the smartphone reigns supreme in providing students a variety of outlets to connect both at and away from school–and the new Apple app “Gas” by Find Your Crush, which lets users anonymously vote on their friends, is certainly the most unique.
The app uses location data to connect students with local high schools, where they can find their classmates via Snapchat.
Users gain “coins,” which can be used to buy answer space in a special someone’s poll, by completing a series of 12 questions on their peers.
These quizzes give prompts like, “Hits you with ‘so glad we’re just friends’ when you want to be more than friends” and “Knows exactly how much cream cheese you like on your bagel.”
“You can just compliment [your peers], and it can make you feel very valued because you get compliments like, ‘you dress very nice,’” freshman Brynna Pauley said.
But some, like Hayes School Resource Officer Joseph Kolp, have concerns with the app’s data collection habits.
“Anytime there’s a chance of apps tracking your location, I would say that definitely can be risky,” Kolp said. “The app says that they only use your location initially to determine what high school you go to, but that still means that, at some point, they’re getting access to your location. Physical safety would be my main concern.”
There are also risks, specifically among adolescents, regarding phone use and the possibility of addiction.
Jackie Bain is the SAFE Delaware County Coalition Coordinator, and works with coalitions in the Delaware area to combat technology-related issues.
“Healthy, normal one-on-one interactions are being replaced [with online interactions] because they are easier to hide behind,” Bain said. “It encourages your brain to become part of this cycle of always wanting more and more and more.”
However, “Gas” is not the only app where Hayes students interact.
As an increasing number of people have access to the internet worldwide, communities of students on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have formed.
Yet with any social media platform, there is the possibility of online interactions interfering with school activities.
Bain is hesitant about social media’s impact on students’ mental health.
“[Social media] can definitely have a positive [effect]. I think the problem with a lot of social media is just the amount we consume of it, just like [Gas],” Bain said. “I think the general message is positive. But if you’re spending all day waiting for those frames to pop up … then it just turns into a negative … When they start, they’re fine. But then people get hooked on them.”
To combat the negative effects of social media, particularly due to texting while driving, the Text Less Live More and Reduce Ohio Crashes programs have been instituted in schools, including Hayes.
Students can complete activities and submit their results for “points,” which can go towards rewards like free defensive driving classes.
“It’s all about how it’s peer led, and it’s about how young people can support each other’s digital wellness,” Bain said. “Everything in health is about balance … Do you interact more with your best friend face-to-face than texting them? And what is that doing to your health and wellbeing? We have evolved to be social creatures. We do not do well to survive by ourselves.”