What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that you can't register for Ask.fm unless you're 13 -- or say you are during registration. But you can't go back and enter a new birth date once you’ve been denied. Bullying has been a major concern in the past; the British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens. But in the past year, Ask.fm launched a separate safety site to help teens understand how to adjust their profile settings for additional safety and have a more secure experience. Users, for example, follow each other anonymously. But kids also can be very visible, such as filming and posting video responses to user questions and sharing personal photos on the site.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- presenting to others
- social media
Engagement, Approach, Support
Inquisitive kids likely will enjoy having an outlet to ask as many questions as they'd like. But some may be frustrated if users don't respond quickly -- which isn't guaranteed.
The site's questions involve a wide variety of topics, which can help spark kids' interest in new things. But there's no guarantee users will respond with correct information, which lessens some of the site's potential educational value.
The site recently launched an online safety center with information for parents, teachers, and teens on profile privacy features, links to anti-cyberbullying and other issue-related websites, and a blog with tips from the site's safety advisers.
What's it about?
Founded in 2010, with offices in Ireland, Riga, Latvia, and California, ASK.FM is a social media site where interactions are based on questions and answers. To use the site, you need to register and create a profile; you can then ask a question -- anonymously, if you'd like -- or view questions other users have posted. You can submit written answers or record a video response. Users also can find friends through the site or by syncing with Facebook, Twitter, or VK.com.
Is it any good?
The social media site has made some moves in the past year to give users a safer experience, such as offering a site with online safety advice -- but it unfortunately hasn't been able to stop some users from posting negative, inappropriate, and downright mean comments.
There are friendly interactions on Ask.fm -- Q&As about favorite foods or crushes, for example -- but you can't guarantee what kind of response you’ll get when you post a question. If your teens do use the site, they'd be best turning off anonymous answers and keeping themselves out of the live stream -- and knowing how to handle abusive behavior if they do run into bullies. Syncing with Facebook or Twitter means that a much wider audience can see those Q&As, so kids and parents should be mindful of that, too.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about cyberbullying and how anonymity can encourage bad behavior. Do you act differently online when your real identity isn't revealed?
Review our Social Networking Tips and set guidelines for what's OK to post online and what's off-limits. Do you know why online limits are important?