A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
TELLONYM lets you "answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before." People register using an email address or a phone number, indicate whether they're under or over 16 (though the app store says you must be 17 to download it), and then search for friends by username or phone contact list. User profiles contain one photo (though many more can be seen by linking the app to Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram), and users can follow each other and send each other anonymous messages. A home feed displays all messages addressed to a user, and push notifications alert users whenever a new message or "tell" is delivered. Users can block and report people who send hurtful or harassing messages and can set a filter that recognizes words the user determines.
Is it any good?
With online anonymity increasing the likelihood of callousness and cruelty, anonymous messaging is a questionable concept at best, especially for kids. Though there's some potential for fun in guessing who's messaging you -- the app store's tagline reads "See who likes you" -- there's just as much potential for finding out who doesn't. Users in app store reviews report being harassed repeatedly, told they're ugly, and that they should "kill themselves." The developers admit Tellonym allows anonymous, unregistered users to send messages, and that while these messages can be policed and/or blocked, that's generally only after the damage has been done. It's all too easy to send insulting or threatening messages to other people or make them feel unwanted. And though Tellonym claims its simple text-based approach and in-house monitoring reduce the possibility of cyberbullying, the app's ability to link to more diverse social media apps like Snapchat and Twitter more or less cancel out that claim. With two million registered users and the promise of anonymity, Tellonym is an obvious temptation for shy kids and teens; unfortunately, the app's potential for encouraging meanness and clique-ishness make it the last kind of app kids should use.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why anonymous apps like Tellonym can cause problems. Though anonymity might save you some embarrassment, what kind of harm might it do?
Discuss strategies for countering online bullying. What kinds of tools do your favorite apps offer to prevent harassing behavior?
Think about internet security and connecting multiple accounts. What are the risks of connecting every social media app you download?
For kids who love social networking
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.