The Real Problem With Ask.fm

By on 03-05-2014

We’ve written before about the dangers of Ask.fm and its link to cyberbullying and teen suicide, and although we’d love to be able to share some good news about the social network, its recent attempt to create a safer user experience doesn’t make it any more appropriate for young users.

15 Minutes of Shame

Parents, don’t be fooled. Although the Ask.fm team’s efforts to improve the safety of their app may be a step in the right direction, they certainly don’t guarantee a safe user experience. Despite adding additional moderators, the average time that an illicit post (e.g. cyberbullying) is removed is approximately 15 minutes. As you know, a lot can happen online in a short amount of time. A hurtful message, even when deleted, can have long-term effects on a child’s reputation and self-esteem.

There’s No App for Navigating Adolescence

The real problem with Ask.fm goes far beyond how many moderators they have or whether or not they advise their users to report bullying. The more disturbing issue here is that the app encourages young users to navigate childhood by seeking out advice and emotional support from strangers. The app’s website claims that Ask.fm makes the journey of self-discovery easier for teens by fostering “uninhibited, truthful conversations.” It even goes so far as to say that the app builds self-confidence, which of course is the very opposite of what it did to Hannah Smith and the other teens who have sadly taken their own lives after enduring relentless cyberbullying from other Ask.fm users.

Be Your Child’s Guide

Clearly, there’s no app that can replace good parenting and a strong family support system—not even Qustodio (though we like to think we help!). Keep the lines of communication open with your child. Teach them how to use social media responsibly, and more importantly, encourage them to come to you with questions about growing up—not strangers on the Internet.

Note: The opinions above belong to Melissa Maypole, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Qustodio. Download Qustodio’s free software to begin managing, monitoring, and understanding your kids’ online media consumption today. For more information on digital parenting and online safety, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

References

Ask.fm Social Network for Teens Launches Safety Centre http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/37200/askfm-social-network-for-teens-launches-safety-centre/