This is What You Need to Know About Ask.fm
Confession: When my kids ask me to use a new app, I sometimes say, “no” just because I haven’t used it myself and I don’t know enough about it to know what to say! Can you relate?
Ask.fm was one of those apps for me. I want to tell you about my experience with Ask.fm, what went well, what didn’t go well, and what I will do differently when my next child asks to use Ask.fm.
What is Ask.fm?
Ask.fm, also known as Ask.com, is an Unmonitored site that is set up in a question and answer format.
To be honest, this sounded like a lot of fun to me! And I’m not the only one, lots of kids love it and it is considered by many to be a “beginner” app for kids.
This site SOUNDS innocent enough, but …
I quickly found out that many parents have taken it away from their kids.
Here are some reasons why:
- Anonymous features—Anonymous questions and users and any type of content are all allowed.
- Counter-intuitive blocking abilities—You can block a user on Ask.fm, but they can still see your profile and all of your actions.
- Easily shareable content—Anything that happens on Ask.fm can appear on Facebook and Twitter; they are integrated and Ask.fm information is shareable.
- Lack of privacy—There are no privacy level options for Ask.fm, although you can reset the default setting to NOT allow anonymous questions. If you let your kids use this app, I highly recommend that you do this and check if it is still set correctly after updates!
So here's the (real) deal
The anonymous feature and the fact that you can't see who is following you on Ask.fm (you can just see how many followers you have, a number that is checked on regularly and seen as a status check) mean that kids who are bullied or propositioned on Ask.fm often don't know who is harassing them.
If your kid is using Ask.fm
It is worthwhile to check on and discuss with them their anonymous question setting and if they have their profile linked or posted anywhere like in their bio line or photo caption in another app; anyone can contact them if they do this.
It's also worthwhile to discuss what kinds of questions are okay with you if they both ask and answer. Look at their interactions on Ask.fm as well as their friends' to get a gauge and feel for how they're using it.
A final note
Kids who are taught how to use apps safely and wisely can truly use any app. A big part of this is getting your kids talking to you openly and honestly about their app use. For step-by-step help in how to do this, check out my App Ask Hack for parents of new(ish) digital kids. It’s super helpful and you can get it RIGHT HERE.
Galit Breen is the author of Kindness Wins, a simple, no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. You can get her parents’ guide to new app asks RIGHT HERE.