One of the leading sources of parental stress in the running decade has been the use of social media by adolescents.
Every few months a new app comes along the way attracting a large amount of attention by people belonging to the younger demographic. Add to this the fact that an average middle class household in Pakistan has at least 2 – 3 smart devices and at least 1 desktop or laptop making it further complicated to effectively monitor the digital presence of children.
Despite this a lot of caregivers make a serious effort to keep a tab on the activities of their underage family members on the internet. However, with so many apps popping up in quick succession, parents – who are often less well-versed with technology than their children – struggle to keep pace.
The latest application to have captured the imagination of young people is Sarahah. Within a month of its launch it has attracted over 10 million downloads and a lot of interest.
So What is Sarahah?
This app allows people to give their friends, families and even strangers feedback anonymously. So, for instance if you have a friend who’s always complaining and you’ve never had the guts to point this out to his/her, you can use Sarahah to speak your heart out without being identified.
At first this sounds fairly harmless and the original idea behind the app was also to help people give honest feedback to provoke self reflection and improvement. However, the app has come under public scrutiny for being used to bully and even harass and threaten people.
For this reason it is extremely important for parents and caregivers to understand Sarahah so that they are able to guide and protect their children from potential psychological and – possible – physical harm.
What Should I Be Aware of As a Parent/Caregiver?
Not for Children
First and foremost, Sarahah is NOT recommended for children. This means if you have an underage family member using Sarahah it is best to ask them not to. The app store recommends it for users 17 years or older.
What if My Child Insists on Using Sarahah?
If you have a teenager at home s/he might resist your request to uninstall Sarahah.
Instead of engaging in an argument with your adolescent it will be more helpful if you have a discussion instead. Ask them their reasons for wanting to use the app, share the possible demerits and point out other ways (both physical and virtual) where they can connect with their friends and have a good time.
A lot of young people put up with bullying and harassment silently. They avoid talking about it with their adult family members for fear of greater scrutiny and/or because they don’t want to worry their parents.
However, if you bring up the subject yourself, they will feel more confident and will be better equipped to deal with bullying – whether online or otherwise.
An open discussion about bullying and harassment is extremely important even if your child is not yet using the app. It will encourage them to immediately inform you in case they come across a potentially distressing situation.
The Privacy Settings Your Child Should Have on Sarahah
As said earlier, it can prove difficult to keep a tab on all the devices and social media platforms that your kids use. Thus, even if your child is not using Sarahah or has agreed to uninstall it, you must educate them about the following privacy settings to ensure that they are protected from unwanted advances in case they choose to use the app secretly.
- Disallow the app from featuring the name and display picture in search results.
- Bar unregistered Sarahah users from commenting on your child’s account.
- Share the link with only a few, trusted friends and family members instead of making it public. (However, there is always a chance that a trusted contact might further circulate the link).
Finally, to educate your child on the app it is important for you to first be well acquainted with it yourself. It is recommended that you install the aap, understand how it works (you can always uninstall it later) and then speak with your child about it.