Cyber-bullying and Ask.fm
Does your child use the website Ask.fm? This is one of the latest social networking websites that students love to login to.
Do you know how it works? The premise is fairly simple – ask a question and get an answer. The service is very easy to use. You can pose a question to one particular person or to all users, or you can answer any question that comes up on your feed. Typical questions that appear on the site include, “What would you do if you won the lotto?”, “What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?”, and “What was the last YouTube video you saw?” This all just seems like simple fun, and it should be, except that like most technology, its fine until it’s abused.
Judging from personal experience, having to deal with students who have been the target, and also from news sites, Ask.FM abuse is widespread. There has even been are a number of reported suicides by young people targeted by cyber-bullies using Ask.fm.
You only have to skim through the site to see that sexualised, abusive and bullying content can be, and is being posted unchecked. The biggest issue though is that the site allows anonymous chat that often results in abusive and highly offensive content. This in fact is the unique selling point of Ask.fm – its guarantee of anonymity. The target users are also teenagers. The estimate is that over 50% of users are under the age of 18 and many are under 13, having opened accounts that actually violate the site’s terms of service. This makes the site highly attractive to bullies and other, even more sinister users.
We all would agree that bullies are often the weakest and most pathetic individuals. Ask.fm allows bullies to post pathetic messages to other users that intimidate and hurt. Parents, you need to support your child online.
What can parents do?
Unfortunately, when it comes to technology, our kids will usually be at least one step ahead of us. So it is highly possible that they will have an account with Ask.fm and other social networking sites that you have no knowledge about. So how does a parent manage this?
Above all else, it is vital that you have good, open communication with your child about what they do online. Remember you may not know all there is to know about tweets, blogs and apps but you do know about parenting and all the same principles apply. You should sit down with your child and discuss the use of Ask.fm and other similar sites. Setting rules and boundaries around your child’s use of this site is important.
All children are different and parents need to decide what approach is best for their child. Typical approaches vary: from agreeing what is suitable behaviour on the site, regularly monitoring their activity, or not allowing them to use it at all. At the very least you should agree that they will always treat others with respect and let you know if anything happens that upsets them.
For rules and boundaries to be really effective they are best developed between you and your child. Having this chat with your child can give you a lot of information about their online activity and concerns.
The conversation surrounding the agreement of rules can often be as useful as the contract itself. If your child has had an input in developing the agreement in relation to their use of Ask.fm they are more likely to see the rules and sanctions as fair and are therefore more likely to abide by them or discuss them at a later date if they feel they should be changed.
A GREAT internet site – GCCC Moodle
Have you checked out our Moodle?
Moodle is the GCCC Learning Management System and was introduced this year. It is slowly growing and evolving into a highly useful application for parents, students and staff. Teachers are beginning to upload unit plans, lessons, assignments and other assessment tasks. There are also links to various highly useful learning tools.
So check out www.moodle.gccc.qld.edu.au
There are three sections – Students, Staff and Community.
The Community section includes such things as the Middle/Senior School Parent Handbook.
The Student section includes information for each student’s subjects, Future Pathways Information and library resources.
Please be a little patient with us as Moodle is certainly a work-in-progress.
David Heyworth, Head of Senior School