Parents, you need to know if your child is using the popular app Sarahah, and here are 7 reasons why:
- Sarahah allows users to send completely anonymous comments to other users, with no way for the recipient to reply or for them to know who sent the message. (Anonymity, when it comes to social media and teenagers, is a recipe for cyberbullying.)
- Users cannot respond to messages but they can “favorite” messages.
- Sarahah users can link their account to their Snapchat account.
- The name Sarahah means “honesty” in Arabic and after spreading throughout the Arab world, it is now on top of the charts of most downloaded free apps in the Apple store.
- Users can use Snapchat to send anonymous messages through Sarahah.
- Typically, teens will share their anonymous Sarahah messages on their Snapchat feeds in an attempt to figure out who sent them.
- The Sarahah website describes the app as something that “helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.”
Take all of that information about the app, add the teenage brain, poor impulse control, emotional intensity and underdeveloped coping skills, and what do you have?
A recipe for a cyberbullying disaster.
A user of this app can search for people they know, and can then send them anonymous messages. While the app encourages users to craft “a constructive message” we can all agree that “constructive” and adolescent social media communication isn’t always the norm.
Sarahah is available for free on both Android and IOS systems, and you can log in to the website itself to check your messages.
What are experts saying about it?
Dr. Frank Farley, a Temple University professor and past president of the American Psychological Association said that parents need to be tuned in. “Go online, take a look for teenage depression, suicidal ideation, suicide indicators, and as a parent, get on top of that. In this era, you have to.”
The problem with this kind of anonymous app is that users often don’t fear any consequences for the messages they send, which is attractive to tweens or teens who want to lash out or bully a peer.
There have already been several reports of widespread bullying on the service, with some users even complaining in app store reviews about instances of racist messages and other harassment. New York magazine spoke to several Sarahah users, most of whom said they had seen a mix of positive and negative messages on the app. “The messages are usually either really nice or really mean,” one user told the publication.
How does Sarahah connect to a Snapchat account?
Teens have been posting links to their Sarahah profiles in Instagram to encourage other users to send them anonymous feedback. But, as Fortune reported earlier this week, Sarahah users are also using a new linking feature that the popular messaging app Snapchat added in July to share posts between the two apps. When Snapchat users share a new snap, they now have the option of tapping a paper clip icon that lets them paste links, which means they can simply embed a link to their Sarahah profiles into a snap to encourage their Snapchat followers to send them anonymous messages.
While once popular teen apps like Yik Yak and Secret have fizzled out, kids are ahead of the technology curve when it comes to the latest must-have social media applications. Social Judo will help you as a parent by alerting you each time your child downloads a new app. It provides you the parenting opportunity needed to investigate the app and to decide if it is appropriate for your child to use.
As a Licensed Clinician in private practice, I tell parents that any app which is anonymous is simply not for children. Teens and tweens don’t need easier ways to impulsively message their emotionally driven thoughts. It is too easy for a tween or teen to get themselves in serious trouble, with just one simple click.
You can’t protect your child in cyberspace if you don’t know what is going on. Smarter parents are using Social Judo to get the real-time alerts which will create parenting moments in a space most teens and tweens occupy 6-10 hours a day.
Sarahah is just the latest app to hit the headlines, there are more coming out every day, and parents need to be on top of it. Simplify your life as a parent by using Social Judo.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.