by Larry Magid:
A study published in April by Pew Research found that only 11% of cellphone-owning teens use anonymous question and answer apps like Yik-Yak, Whisper and Ask.fm. Girls (13%) are more likely than boys (8%) to use such apps as are Hispanics (16%) compared to whites/non-Hispanic (9%) and Black, non-Hispanic (7%).
And while the study didn’t touch on safe use, there is no question that some kids (and adults) abuse these services by posting mean comments or inappropriate images. Still, based on what I see, most kids who do use anonymous apps are doing so responsibly. There are plenty of positive uses of these apps including supporting people who are going through tough times, exploring religious or political views or simply satisfying your curiosity about a subject. They can also be used to poll your friends and strangers on a variety of subjects.
Random posts from Ask.fm
As an example, I took a look at six random posts on Ask.fm and here are the ones that popped up. None are mean or inappropriate:
- When you feel sad, what cheers you up?
- What’s the best cheese to eat with crackers?
- What would someone have to do to make you dislike them immediately?
- What is the most ridiculous place for a first date?
What can totally impress you?
- How many hours do you sleep at night?
Still, there are some things that you should watch out for. As we wrote on ConnectSafely’s Tips for Safe and Civil use of Anonymous Apps, know how to report, get help if you’re scared, know what the app knows about you, and remember there’s no such things as complete anonymity online. There are always ways for authorities to find you. You’ll find more in the tip sheet and this advice article.