Think you’re monitoring your kid’s text messages? Think again. If they’re using Snapchat, it’s very likely that you have no idea what texts are going out and coming in. Snapchat is a photo messaging app for smart phones. Users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to recipients—much like a text message. The difference is users set a time limit (usually about 10 seconds) for how long recipients can view their Snaps, after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and deleted from the Snapchat server.
Do you know whether or not your child uses Ask.fm? Many parents do not—and the content on these pages is pretty surprising to many of them when they find out. A quick search on the website will help you locate your child’s page if s/he has one.
As reported on Today.com:
While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram rank as the most popular social networks among teens, another website that many parents may be unfamiliar with continues to make news in a very bad way. Ask.fm, a Latvia-based social network where members interact by inviting others to ask anonymous questions, has been linked to at least 10 teen suicides involving cyberbullying.
“Most recently, we saw a 12-year-old girl in Florida kill herself after bullying on the site…one Irish teenager actually names Ask.fm in her suicide note,” TODAY correspondent Michelle Kosinski said Wednesday morning.
Reporting from Riga, Latvia where the three-year-old social network’s small office is located, Kosinski pointed to comments made to kidnap victim Hannah Anderson on Ask.fm, where she hosted a forum 48 hours after her rescue. “Drink bleach” and “Go die” were just two comments received by the girl whose mother and brother had been murdered.
While the Ask.fm founders refused to meet with Kosinksi, she pointed out that the site made changes in August. “You can report bullying, easily block anonymous posters,” she said. Ask.fm also says it’s hiring moderators and making incentives to register at the site, which would make it easier to track identity of the bullies. In a statement to TODAY the social network said that “Ask.fm is committed to doing everything it can to protect its users and stamp out bullying or any other kind of abuse.”
It is imperative that parents keep a close on eye on their children’s social media usage. Not only do we need to help protect them from persistent bullying, but we also need to make sure that our child isn’t the one doing the bullying. We so often worry about our child being the victim of bullying, and rightfully so—we should protect our children from bullying as much as we can. But how often do we wonder about the repercussions when it’s our child doing the bullying? Nobody wants to think their child is capable of it, but somebody’s child is doing it. Yes, being bullied comes with some serious risks and certainly none of us want it to happen to our child. But imagine for a second if your child is the bully-er, the one who potentially causes an already emotionally-troubled child to make the decision to end her own life. Knowing that you may the one who is partly responsible for a child taking her own life is a huge load to carry for the rest of one’s life. They’re just kids—they’re going to make some bad choices. As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure our children not only know that they should never tolerate being bullied, but also that it’s not okay, and very risky, to be the bully.
So while you’re monitoring your child’s social networking sites for content from other users, make sure to keep a close eye on what your child is doing. Thinking my child would never do that is dangerous. Somebody’s child is doing that and it’s probable that their parents have no idea.
- What is Ask.fm and Why Do Parents Need to Know? (todaysmama.com)
- School principals concerned about social media site Ask.fm (king5.com)
- New sources for cyberbullying (cnn.com)