A concern we hear from parents when it comes to kids and their devices is online bullying. And for this reason, we think you’re going to want to know about the new Sarahah app.
This personal bulletin board app has now blown up all around the world, with a whopping 18 million downloads and counting. It can, however, be dangerous territory for kids, since all comments left here are written anonymously.
Does this sound like a great way to get honest feedback — or a bullying disaster waiting to happen?
Sarahah comes from the Arabic word for “frankness” or “honesty.” And it was recently the top downloaded free app in the entire App Store and shows few signs of slowing down.
The app was designed to allow users have their own personal bulletin board, where anyone at all — even if they’re not logged into Sarahah — may leave an anonymous message, though users have the choice to tag their identity or not.
You can’t just follow anyone, though you can keep track of comments you receive, send or favorite.
The app was originally created to give employees a way to leave constructive criticism for their bosses without worrying about their jobs, but now teens are using it to compliment each other’s hairstyles, ship their friends, or just leave completely random thoughts.
Of course, due to the fact that all comments on the Sarahah app are anonymous, it has become fertile ground for bullying.
With Sarahah there is literally no accountability whatsoever. Inverse calls it “essentially little more than an open inbox” and while you can’t respond to messages directly, you are able to share a response through other social channels, or even link your posts to a Snapchat account now. This makes a user less anonymous, though not the commenters.
While your teen may be incredibly responsible with their use of social media, it’s still important to know that bullying is wildly prevalent and this is just one more form factor.
According to the Megan Meier Foundation which was founded to stop bullying and cyberbullying, research indicates that more than one-third of students have reported experiencing cyberbullying; and peer victimization has lead to increased issues with mental health and even an increase in suicide rates.
One of the biggest scandals about Sarahah at the moment has nothing to do with bullying at all.
It has recently ben revealed that Sarahah has secretly been uploading all the email and phone numbers from Android address books without asking permission first. In fact, it was only discovered thanks to an analyst who had monitoring software installed on his device — something kids aren’t likely to have.
However this does mean that if if you know anyone at all who has your phone number or contact info stored on an Android device, and they’re one of the 18 million people using Sarahah, then your own private information may well have been breached yet according to the Sarahah terms of service and privacy statement, they state they won’t “sell, trade, rent or disclose any information to any third party”.
The first and most important thing you can do to look out for your kids’ safety is to have to “the tech talk” early and often. It’s a good idea to keep communication channels open about all things, including use of apps.
You should also know exactly which apps are on your childrens phone and have access to them at any time. You can even set notifications so that you have to approve any app at all that your kids download.
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