The advent of “smart” technology has made parenting for our generation – Gen-Xers like myself and Millennials like many of my friends – more challenging than ever before. Sure, we don’t have to worry about growing or killing our own dinner to keep our families fed, and there are dozens of diseases that children used to die from that they no longer do, but the things that can now kill and harm our kids are things that aren’t automatically viewed as dangerous. By many, they’re viewed as “fun,” “normal,” and “no big deal.” Sadly, when it comes to social media, that is FAR from the truth. After reading over the weekend about the newest app that is a threat to our kids mental and social health, I knew I had to share it with my fellow parents.
At the time of this writing, this dangerous new app is #2 on the iTunes App Store charts. Last week it was #1, beating out Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Today it’s second only to YouTube. It’s name? “Sarahah,” which means “honesty” or “frankness” in Arabic.
According to an article on Protect Young Minds, Sarahah “created in the Middle East as a way for co-workers to anonymously share feedback about each other, in a region where face-to-face confrontation is not socially acceptable.” (The word “anonymously,” when associated with an app, should automatically set off alarm bells for parents!) Protect Young Minds goes on to say that Sarahah skyrocketed in popularity due to an new SnapChat feature that allows users to share links within their snaps. Once SnapChat users started linking to Sarahah, it went from #1500 on the iTunes charts to #1 in just 12 days. “We’ve never seen anything like this,” says the article.
Here’s what parents need to know about Sarahah:
- It’s anonymous. Anonymity within apps breeds bullying and predatory behavior. Anonymity is a great ENABLER for those who seek to do wrong and for immature teens who don’t have good impulse control. Out kids don’t need another tool to HELP them be irresponsible and impulsive.
- It’s foreign-owned. That makes it very difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute those responsible if the app is used for illegal behavior like grooming potential victims or masquerading as a teen in order to get someone to meet you in real life. Other apps like Ask.fm and Kik are foreign-owned and this has proved to be a HUGE challenge for law enforcement.
- You can block access. Protect Young Minds says: “The #1 way for parents to control an app like Sarahah is to prevent access to the iTunes App store and Google Play (using Covenant Eyes).” DO IT, moms and dads!!
If you are a parent, you need to take time to UNDERSTAND social media and DISCUSS it with your kids! You can decide what apps they can and can’t have, and you can also talk to them about not using them on their friends’ phones. Explore their peers Instagram accounts and talk about what is good and what is harmful there. Yes, there are some decisions you CAN and SHOULD make for them, but also equip them with everything they need to make good decisions about social media when you aren’t around.
Have your kids been talking about Sarahah? Check those phones and then have a conversation!