Don't Let Your Kids Get This App
If they already have it, use it as a starting point to discuss bullying.
You may already be familiar with the Sarahah app, but, even if you don’t know what it is, your kids probably do. Sarahah, which means “honesty” in Arabic, was created by a Saudi Arabian developer whose goal was to help “you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.” The website says it is meant to be used to send and receive feedback from friends and co-workers. When the app was translated into English, it shot to the top of free apps in English-speaking markets because the anonymous messages can be used for bullying.
The sender of the message is anonymous, and the receiver cannot reply to the message.
According to https://smartsocial.com, parents should be concerned if their children are using the app for the following reasons:
Why should parents care?
- Since this is an app that promotes anonymity, teens and tweens feel like they can hide behind their anonymous screen names and bully others without repercussions
- Sarahah is predominantly used to bully other users
- There is no filter for explicit content
- By default, anyone can leave a message on a profile even if they don’t have an account
- There is no way to report inappropriate content or threats
- Teens and tweens are posting links to their Sarahah accounts on Instagram and Snapchat
- Sarahah has skyrocketed to the top of the app store in less than 6 weeks due to its popularity with teens
- Students are inclined to behave inappropriately when in an anonymous online setting
- Negative messages (even private and anonymous ones) can have an impact on a student’s digital footprint
It was described by an Apple reviewer as “a breeding ground for hate.”
Another reviewer wrote, “Parents, don’t allow your kids to get this app. This is an app breeding suicides.”
It may be, as many users state, that Sarahah is just the app of the moment, and, in fact, many of the comments users get from friends are positive and affirming.
Regardless, similar apps like Yik Yak have come and gone due to being used for bullying and harassment. The reality is that getting rid of one app won’t end bullying.
That may be the take-away for parents. I wouldn’t want my children to have this app, but if they did, I would use it as an opportunity to talk about bullying, and the dangers of anonymous postings. Talking about preventing bullying with kids is important, whether the bullying is done through an app or person-to-person. We can teach our children what bullying means – some kids don’t even realize that sending someone a mean message or making negative comments is bullying. We can teach them not to bully and what to do if they are bullied. We can teach our children what to do if someone they know is being bullied. The app can be the beginning of a conversation.
Teens may love to know what other people think about them, and it’s easier to do that anonymously, but adults can give them opportunities to communicate in person, and also educate them about how to do it effectively.