Parental challenges today include many issues that parents from previous decades faced, and these include underage drinking, premarital sex, truancy and more. However, today’s parents also face added challenges imposed by social media. The prevalence of social media has created issues related to cyber stalking, sexting and cyber bullying. While today’s teens use many social media sites and apps, perhaps one of the most talked about amongst parents is Ask.fm.
What Is Ask.fm?
With a private account set up on Ask.fm, both identified and anonymous uses can ask your teen questions. Your teen has the option to answer the question or delete it without responding. There is no end to the types of questions or comments that your teen may receive through the website. In addition, each user can customize his or her Ask page to include a photo, a tagline, a background and other information. If unknown users see your child’s page, that individual will see the photo that your teen has posted.
How Ask.fm Is Used
When used most innocently, this is a website that teens use to ask questions such as who the person likes, what their favorite sports team is and who their best friends are. They may pay anonymous compliments to your teen, such as stating how beautiful his or her eyes are. However, because the questions can be anonymous, many people unfortunately use Ask.fm to ask hateful or hurtful questions. These may be questions or comments that may never have been said to their face, such as those pertaining to a person’s height, weight, sexual orientation or sexual experience. In addition, they may be vulgar in nature. Because of this, cyberbullying and harassment are common.
Why the Site is Popular
Teens love Ask.fm because it provides them with a way to communicate with others anonymously. For example, someone may not have the courage to say they have a crush on your teen in person, but he or she may feel comfortable doing so anonymously. Many parents, however, have forbidden their teens from having an Ask.fm account because of cyberbullying and other issues associated with the website.
How Parents May Use the Site
Commonly, parents wonder if their teen is being bullied at school, what other kids think about them or what is going on in their personal life. When an Ask.fm account is actively monitored by parents, parents can learn more about what peers may be thinking or saying about the teen. In fact, an Ask.fm app can be downloaded to the parent’s smartphone, and parents can see questions arrive in the teen’s Ask.fm account in real time. This minimizes the chance that teens may delete questions about hot topics, such as sex, drugs and more that may be asked of them before parents see them.
Important Safety Features
While each parent must decide whether to forbid or allow the use of different social media sites and apps, parents should be aware that Ask.fm does have safety features in place that can be utilized. For example, under the “Settings” page, the “Privacy” tab allows you to control if anonymous questions are asked or not. By only allowing questions from those who identify themselves, you may prevent anonymous cyber bullies from targeting your child. Likewise, you can disable your teen’s questions from being seen on the main Ask.fm feed. This minimizes the chance your teen’s page will receive unwanted visitors. Finally, you can also block users who are harassing your teen with mean , hurtful or vulgar questions. This can be done on a user-by-user basis as questions are asked. Blocking the user actually blocks the device that the user is on, so the person asking the questions could theoretically use a second or third device to ask questions. However, blocking all users who ask mean questions will eventually result in most or all of the hateful messages ceasing.
Ask.fm can yield wonderful, positive comments, but it can also yield hurtful and mean-spirited messages. It is fairly unreasonable to expect an Ask.fm account to never receive hateful messages or questions, but the accountholder does not need to respond to or post those. Furthermore, the accountholder can also block that user if necessary. While there are benefits to having an Ask.fm account as well, parents should consider monitoring the account and using privacy and security settings to protect their teen through Ask.fm.
Another good article