KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – An app that allows kids to anonymously rate each other has caught the attention of some parents, with many terrified their children have opened themselves up to cyberbullying.
Sarahah — which means “honesty” or “frankness” in Arabic — has become popular among students, inviting others to leave anonymous comments.
Jamie Killam from Kamloops was troubled to find her 13 year old daughter using the site.
“She’d posted hers on Snapchat, because you can link it, and she got comments saying she was pretty and she should hang out, blah, blah, blah. But then there was also ‘your eyebrows suck’ and ‘you made my best friend hate me’,” she told the KiSS RADiO morning show in Vancouver.
“You can see how this could go real sideways in a real hurry so I talked to her about it. She was deathly embarrassed and said all her friends are using it.”
While Killam’s daughter felt Sarahah was harmless, her mother did not, asking her to delete it from her phone.
“You don’t need to be reading stuff like that and you don’t need to be writing stuff to anyone anonymously ever,” she said.
Killam is concerned with how much children can open themselves up to abuse online.
“It’s just terrifying. It’s a whole new world and, as a parent, trying to keep up with that and trying to know what they’re into on VSCO, Snapchat and even Instagram, how do you keep up? I’m finding out kids have fake Instagram accounts for their parents and real ones for their friends. It’s just one more thing I have to watch out for, this website where kids can say whatever they want because they are anonymous.”
Killam believes open dialogue is the best way to approach the issue but, at times, it is easier said than done.
“I think one of the hard parts for a lot of parents is keeping the anger out of it,” she said. “You can go to that place right away but as soon as you do, you lose them and there’s more cover up and potential lying.”
After backlash over the rising number of abusive messages, Google and Apple’s app stores removed Sarahah in February.
It can still be accessed on the company’s website.