How kids use work app Sarahah to bully peers online

Research shows 87 percent of kids have witnessed cyberbullying. And, now, there is a wildly popular new app called Sarahah which kids are using to bully one another

Sadly, the old maxim “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you,” has been proven false, as many victims of cyberbullying have turned to self-harm, substance abuse and tragically, even suicide.

Sarahah originally started as a workplace tool. Employees can give anonymous feedback to their employers, as well as to their co-workers.

Saudi programmer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq created Sarahah. The name of the app is derived from the Arabic word for frankness or honesty.

Sarahah’s popularity launched its download numbers past YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. And, the adults don’t have exclusive rights to the app. Kids can easily create profiles on Sarahah and then use the app as a way to taunt their peers anonymously. Furthermore, the app connects to Snapchat, meaning that the bullying can extend to another massive platform. Snapchat has been called a Sarahah distribution platform, as reporter Madison Malone Kircher of NY MAG explains:

Kids will embed their Sarahah link into a snap in their Snap Story — in layman’s terms, they’ll post the link where all their Snapchat followers can access it — where friends, or anybody if their account is public, can click it and anonymously comment.

While the app promises to help users”self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback,” the reality is that many kids (and adults) use the app to send nothing but negativity.

So far, Sarahah feedback comments show a fair share of criticism, with users saying that people have sent them misogynist and racist messages. Parents and school officials are particularly alarmed by the sexual content, which can include rape threats and other graphic messages.

How to protect kids from Sarahah

Gross. So what should parents do to protect their kids? (Besides build a time machine and take us back to an era before smartphones?)

Working Mother advises parents to go into their child’s phone and change the privacy settings on the app. If you go to the Settings, you can turn off the “appear in search” and “receive messages from non-registered users” options. This will help to keep your kid a bit safer as random people won’t be able to search and find them.

Also, if your child is receiving nasty messages from a user, you can contact Sarahah with the evidence and have that person blocked. (Although, to be frank, it won’t be too hard for that person to simply create another profile).

What do you think? Would you let your kid use Sarahah?

h/t: liveMINT