What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Spring.me is the next generation of Formspring, an "ask me anything" site that allowed anonymous questions and comments and created lots of opportunities for bullying and negative behavior. This incarnation seems to be slightly more positive but still opens doors to inappropriate and possibly harmful activity for kids. While users can report content in a few different categories and choose from a pretty decent range of access control settings, mature content is definitely present.
What's it about?
At its core, users ask and answer questions on Spring.me. You can smile (akin to Like), share, respond, comment on a response, or report. The Feeds page lists featured, latest, and following for questions and answers plus a multiple choice poll. The People tab lists those currently online plus featured users. The Me page shows your activity, including followers and following and finding friends through social media. Russian, Portuguese, and Danish interface options are available although questions do seem to appear in a wider range of languages including Spanish.
Is it any good?
"Springers" find fun, connections, and a place to express themselves be it wit, music videos, viral memes, cynicism, praise, frustrations, drug use, hooks ups, or sexuality. The Spring.me blog explains how to apply to be a special status ambassador working through a 10-flag hierarchy earning perks and rising to the level of King or Queen of Springdom -- all of which seems like a good way to get users to welcome newbies, stay positive, fill in a complete profile, and login regularly.
Is it safe for kids? It depends. Most users appear to be in their twenties but there's a good number of younger subscribers as well. Question askers and responders do not self-censor with the idea that minors are privy to their candid tone; however, the ability to report and block users and content seems very accessible. Still, there's no guarantee that kids won't see or read some pretty explicit stuff, and as with most anonymous apps and sites, the potential for bullying and inappropriate content is rife.
Families can talk about...
Discuss what it means to be anonymous online. How could someone find out your true identity? Would you say different things if no one knew it was you?
Explore topics that interest your kid and ask envelope-pushing questions to grab their interest.