Founded in 2010, ASKfm is a global social networking site that allows users to ask and answer questions anonymously. On ASKfm, your child can post anonymous questions and receive replies in the form of text, photos, or videos from anyone in the world.
All posts are public, meaning that everyone can see them, regardless of whether they have the app or not. ASKfm currently has over 200 million registered users around the world.
Concerns Surrounding ASKfm
Because ASKfm is an anonymous social media platform, it has struggled with cyberbullying and issues with sexual content. In 2013, the app was linked to several teen suicides
, and in a 2016 survey by NSPCC
, 88% of children surveyed reported seeing inappropriate content on the platform.
Safety concerns related to ASKfm include the following:
- While most questions are sincere and positive, not all are, and some users may send or request provocative photos.
- Anonymity — which is supposed to allow users to ask and answer questions honestly — emboldens some users to post inappropriate content or engage in cyberbullying.
- The Shoutout feature allows users communicate with users who are located geographically close to them, including total strangers who could arrange to meet up.
- There is no way to keep ASKfm accounts private. Users cannot see who is following them, and everything they post is visible to all users.
- ASKfm profiles can also be found on search engines like as Google Chrome. This includes background pictures as well as posts.
How to Keep Your Kids Safe on ASKfm
- If you allow your child to use ASKfm, make sure that they are aware of the fully-public nature of the platform, as well as the other potential dangers involved with the application. And for good measure, ask them not to link their ASKfm account to their Facebook account.
- Don’t let your child use their real first or last name as their username, or use a real photo as their profile picture.
- Go to Settings > Account, where you will find privacy options. Tap the buttons to:
- Change your child’s password
- Deactivate their account
- Allow others to share their posts
- Allow others to subscribe to their activities
- Allow their answers to be be shown on the Discover feed
- Allow anonymous questions
- Hide incoming Shoutouts and see only direct questions by swiping the Shoutout symbol in the Incoming Questions section. Or opt out of Shoutouts altogether:
- Go to Settings > Account > toggle off Allow Shoutout questions.
- To block or report users for inappropriate content, click the three dots next to their question to open the menu. Tap Block or Report.
- To delete answers your child has written, click the X next to the post.
- To delete your child's ASKfm account and all the information associated with it:
- Contact ASKfm through this form, and it will take 30 days for the profile to be fully removed.
Like most social media platforms, users must be at least 13 years old
or older to sign up. If your child downloads the app when they are underaged, you can simply delete it. If they are older and have spoken to you about it, make sure that you communicate the risks and explain how your child can be protected from potentially dangerous content.
As technology grows increasingly complicated, the most important strategy you can take for protecting their children is to stay alert and keep open lines of communication so that children feel safe coming to you about their concerns.