Here we go again. We’ve previously written about the dangers of anonymous social media apps targeted at younger users, such as Yik Yak and After School. Regardless of their developers’ intentions, these apps have earned a reputation for facilitating cyberbullying. And today we add Sarahah to our growing list of app alerts for parents.
While Sarahah may not have intentionally targeted kids and teens, Fortune reports that, in its second week after launching in the U.S., it topped the most downloaded apps list in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store—at least in part due to its popularity with kids and teens.
Sarahah, like Yik Yak and After School, allows anonymous communication among users, which, for kids and teens, means it’s a refuge for cyberbullies. Read on to learn more about Sarahah, and why you should talk with your kids about it.
Sarahah: What It Does and What It’s For
Sarahah was originally developed as an anonymous feedback tool for the workplace. (The word “sarahah” in Arabic means “honesty” or “frankness”; the app was created by a Saudi developer.) It allows employees to share constructive criticism with individuals whom they might not feel comfortable confronting, such as superiors.
How Sarahah Works
When a user signs up for Sarahah, they are given a link (username.sarahah.com). Depending on their preferences, the app can be set up to allow anyone who goes to that link—or finds the user via the app’s search tool—to send anonymous messages to the user. Communication is all one way; the user never knows who sends a message, and they can never respond to it.
Why Sarahah May Not Be Appropriate for Kids and Teens
The problem with Sarahah, as with many other apps, is that it’s not always used as originally intended. A wide array of users—including many kids and teens—have downloaded it since the English-language version of the app first became available this summer.
Part of the app’s appeal to younger users stems from its ability to work with Snapchat, a social media app that is immensely popular with kids and teens. Users can share their Sarahah profile information via Snapchat, inviting Snapchat users to comment anonymously on their Snapchat page.
That sounds the alarm. Kids and teens are signing up for a platform where other users can send anonymous messages to them, giving cyberbullies unprecedented access to Sarahah’s most vulnerable users. So great is the danger that leading parenting resource sites such as Common Sense Media have labeled Sarahah as unsafe.
What Parents Can Do About It
This app is a great example of why parents need a comprehensive internet safety plan for their family. With mobile device management and social media monitoring tools, parents can be alerted when their younger users download apps like Sarahah, or receive potentially harmful messages from them. Technical safeguards like these empower parents with the tools to protect their children and open the door for conversations about the potential dangers anonymous social apps, like Sarahah, expose them to.
If you’d like to discuss creating a comprehensive internet safety plan for your family, or how technical safeguards can protect your children from dangerous apps, contact us today.