Sarahah, a new anonymous messaging service, recently soared in popularity with teens. Originally, Sarahah was created so that workers could safely give honest feedback to employers, employees and co-workers. You sign up and send the link to your page for anyone to comment on. Now, Sarahah’s reach expands beyond the workplace. Therefore, anyone can make a page — and anyone can leave feedback or comments. The anonymity leaves your teen vulnerable to inappropriate comments, insults and harassment.

Anonymity makes Sarahah a ripe breeding ground for cyberbullying. There is no site monitoring. According to The Daily Dot, parents have already reported cases of harassment. Also, anyone can search for and comment on the pages of registered users. Because of this, harass happens freely and without repercussions. In fact, a mother in Cherokee, Alabama contacted the ABC3340 news team because her daughter had been harassed. Similarly, the Dublin News shared a report from another mother whose daughter been harassed by multiple anonymous users.

Of course, Sarahah could be used for positive interactions and helpful, constructive feedback. These three steps will help your child stay safe — and away from bullies — on Sarahah.

Choose Who Can See Your Page. The first line of defense? Remind your teens to share the link to their account only with people they know and trust.  This could mean family, friends, and, with very careful consideration, school mates. Urge tham to consult you or to use their best judgement when sharing their link. Also, advise them not to share the link openly on any of their other social media accounts.

Privacy Settings Mean Safety. Help your teen find the privacy section of the app’s settings. Then, encourage your teen to deselect “allow unauthorized users to post.” This will prevent strangers from posting on your teen’s profile. You can also deselect “appear in search.” With this step, they can prevent strangers from finding their profile. There is even an option to opt out of anonymous posting altogether.

Encourage Safety Outside Your Home. It’s essential to develop an open, honest line of communication with your teenager. That way, you can make sure they’re safe even if they’re far from home. Also, keep up with trends in electronic communications. The more you know about the way teens communicate, the more you can help them develop healthy communication skills. Encourage your child’s school to ensure their online safety. For example, ask if they offer instruction in digital citizenship. Also, on sites like Sarahah, there are no moderators. Therefore, there’s no one to monitor for cyberbullying or inappropriate materials. Your child’s school, however, may set up a monitoring system on school computers.Computer word and phrase monitoring software can make sure that nothing potentially dangerous or harmful happens to your child when they’re online at school.

Text by Amber Pope


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