“Could I have a razor or are you too selfish? I would ask you for pills but I’m pretty sure they’re already gone… Well at least they went for a good cause caz nobody wants you here. Bye Sweetie. Please don’t wake up in the morning. Make everyone’s wish come true.”
This is just one of the anonymous messages Maddie Atwell received on social media app, Ask.fm. The words were so hurtful the 12-year old opted to start cutting herself instead of sharing the pain with her family. “I started to cut,” Atwell said. “Why? Because you have this mental pain and you just get distracted from it.”
According to Ask.fm the website has more than 90 million users, and they are allowed to ask questions anonymously.
After several reports of cyberbullying, Ask.fm allows users to block any anonymous questions. This is great news, however it’s not enough to convince me that children are safe using the site.
Chief Technology Mommy Practical tip:
According to news reports, nine suicides were linked to the Ask.fm site last year. Ask your child if they are using Ask.fm, if so it’s time for a discussion. My position has always been for parents to prohibit their children from using Ask.fm. When people are allowed to make comments anonymously, they are usually cowards. Cowards hide behind their words, will say hurtful things, and ultimately leave your child emotionally distraught. Seeing how you have the power of choice, my advice is to make a different decision and pass on this social media outlet.
As usual, I cannot express the importance of communication. Initiate regular discussions with your children about their social media usage, discuss what apps are approved, set expectations, and always discuss consequences.Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, Technology Strategist- empowering women and girls in STEM and Life, and Excuse Annihilator. As Chief Technology Mommy, Marlin shares online safety news to keep parents informed of what’s happening in the “online” world. Marlin also currently serves as a speaker for Microsoft’s Global DigiGirlz Program, has been invited to lead a technology discussion at SXSW’s Interactive Festival, and serves as a speaker/panelist for a number of organizations. Marlin’s book and Music Single Always Believe, empowers girls to love themselves, believe in themselves, and celebrate their uniqueness.
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