With each new wave of social media, parents and schools need to be more involved and alert. Twitter just went public as a stock offering. Facebook is now considered old school. Instagram, Vine, Kik, SnapChat, and many other forms of social media are capturing the attention of adults, but especially our students. While all social media has its own set of dangers, one site causing extra concern among school officials across the country is called Ask.fm.
This site originated in Latvia and currently boasts 70 million users. With Ask.fm, users post questions about themselves or others (often overly provocative questions) and wait for responses. This site is different from others, though, because of its lack of privacy controls and the fact that those instant responses can be completely anonymous.
A Seattle television report two weeks ago stated, ?A quick scan of the site shows everything from insults over body image, to posts encouraging suicide. Ask.fm has about 65 million users, many of them children. Analysts believe kids have moved to the site because so many parents police their more mainstream accounts.?
Cyber-bullying is a growing concerning world-wide, especially among school aged children. The site is just three years old and at least five teenage suicides have been directly linked to bullying that occurred on Ask.fm.
Schools across the country are dealing with incidents sparked by postings on Ask.fm.
While there are many sites for adults and parents trying to navigate social media issues for kids, some very practical advice is offered by ConnectSafely. For the complete list and details of items visit www.connectsafely.org.
Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying
Here are some tips if you or someone you know is being bullied ? and advice for ending (or preventing) the cycle of aggression.
1. Don?t respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you.
2. Don?t retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully?s behavior.
3. Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. Documentation of even minor things may help prove a pattern.
4. Block the bully. If the harassment?s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person.
5. Reach out for help. You deserve backup. Of course you know there are different kinds of help, from talking with a friend to seeing if there?s a trusted adult who can help. It?s usually good to involve a parent but ? if you can?t ? a school counselor can sometimes be helpful.
6. Use reporting tools. If the bullying took place via a social network, use that service?s reporting or ?abuse? tools. The social network may also have ?social abuse-reporting? tools, which allows content to be forwarded to trusted others.
7. Be a friend, not a bystander. Forwarding mean messages or just standing by and doing nothing empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop, or let them know bullying is not cool ? it?s cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can?t stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.