Cyber-Safety Tip – Q&A Websites

Oct 01, 2014 Categories: cyber-safety

Hi all. I want to share with you something you really need to know about to keep your kids safe online.

By ‘safe’ I mean not being exposed to nasty stuff, like mean comments, weirdo questions or dodgy requests. It’s to do with a website that I’ve heard talk about recently and have had a few primary school kids get caught out with.

This website itself is fairly innocent but can be used in a pretty unpleasant way too. The website is called Ask.fm. I have nothing against this company or it’s product. It has set it’s rules to be for 13’s and older and states their rules for respect and they do try to stop any nasty conversations – which is more than some sites do. But a number of our younger kids are getting onto this site too, which is the worry for us.

It’s an Android and iPhone app too by the way – and it’s really worth checking if your child has it on their mobile device. Delete it if they are under 13.

Ask.fm is a website that you go to to ask a question. Any question. Really, I mean ANYTHING. So ‘who is the hottest girl in class’, ‘who would you sleep with for $100’, that kind of thing and much, much worse. It can be used as a bullying tool – really easily. Make sure you know about this website

While this site’s purpose may seem innocent enough, it’s worrying because it has no filtering. The site offers a way for people (over 13s) to interact online and ask questions of any kind.The idea behind the site is to let people ask questions – the way we might use Google. There are tons of people getting quick answers to questions like “what’s the time in London right now”, but as with anything open on the Internet, some people are using this tool in a much more unpleasant way.

You might want to see if the site is in the history of your web browser (or on their phone) just so you know what they may or may not be exposed to online.

Cyber-Safety Alert!

Do your kids know what to do if they see something unsettling online? Here’s the quick tip list:

  • Turn off the screen – not the computer, this is so you can see what they have seen and help them deal with it
  • Tell an adult – parent, teacher, aunt
  • Don’t just hide it – ask for help and know that the adult will help you, not tell you off…
  • Don’t share it with friends – they don’t need to be upset too. Of course they can chat about how you feel but sharing the content just spreads the nastiness.

While you may feel this is only applicable to older students, we know from current research that more and more younger students (as young as Prep – 5 year olds) are accessing this kind of thing online. It’s a worry but not a reason to panic. Here are a few things to think about :0)

For this particular website (Ask.fm), under-13s should NOT be allowed access. The ability within this tool for your child to be asked inappropriate personal, perhaps sexual, questions by strangers is real and should not be underestimated or dismissed.  Make sure you know who your kids are messaging online – it’s our responsibility to do so. Even if the site takes them down – your child may already have seen the comments or questions. That’s just not cool.

Do you know who is talking to your child online? I’m sure none of use would allow our children to talk privately to strangers in the street or at the super-market – are you ensuring the same safety online?

I’m not bashing this site by any means – they are meeting a need. But it’s important that our younger kids, who aren’t the target demographic here, don’t get caught up in an online conversation they don’t know how to handle.

If you’d like  more cyber-safety information and strategies, have a look at  www.cybersmart.gov.au. This is the Aussie government website and it’s a fab resource for parents :0)

 

That’s it – public service announcement over :0) !!!

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