Parent/Guardian Alert: Ask.fm (@sguditus Steve Guditus)

There has been an uptick in recent use of anonymous, unmonitored social media websites by adolescents.  One website in particular, Ask.fm, is cause for serious alarm.  What makes this website so dangerous is the fact that it provides a forum for adolescents, who may already be feeling isolated, to be victim to receiving and responding to anonymous messages - sometimes from strangers and oftentimes from peers they already know, but who want to post anonymous (and frequently hurtful) messages.    

Ask.fm is a Latvian-based company that requires users to create a homepage, which others can view and comment upon anonymously and without registering or logging in.  This website allows anyone with internet access, anywhere in the world to view one’s Ask.fm profile, post information, ask questions, and communicate with users – all anonymously.

Other social media outlets such as Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter require all users to register, so communication is linked to specific users.  Ask.fm, however, provides a forum for anonymous users to post hurtful, upsetting, harmful or dangerous information on a user’s profile – with no trace of who the author is.

If you are a parent or guardian of pre-teen or adolescent, you may want to take the following steps to help protect your child's overall well-being and safety:
  • Speak to your child about his or her online profiles and online behavior, habits and communication.  
  • Ask your child for his/her usernames and passwords, check the content of his/her messages and with whom he/she is communicating.  If he/she will not provide their username or password, that may be a red flag there is content he/she may not want you to discover.
  • Regularly monitor your child's social media accounts.
  • Determine if your child has an Ask.fm account.  To do so, try googling your child’s name and ‘ask.fm’ to see if a profile page appears.
  • Reiterate the importance of online and offline behavior being consistent.  One should not type something online they wouldn't say to someone's face - both children and adults! 
  • Reiterate the importance of keeping information private.  Never share personal, identifying information, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses, especially on public websites like Ask.fm.
  • Engage your child in a conversation about positive behavior and making good decisions - spanning online and offline behavior. 
  • Speak to your child's school about to ask how they address student behavior and encourage a culture and climate of tolerance and kindness.
Technology itself is not the danger; students engaging in risky online behavior is the danger.  You can find a list of resources below that may be helpful in learning more about Ask.fm and helping to support your child with improving his/her online social media behavior:

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