Sarahah, which encourage anonymous “constructive comments” has gained a global teen fanbase since launching last summer
Parents and teenagers are being warned about a new controversial ‘honesty’ app which is being linked to cyberbullying.
Sarahah, which encourage anonymous “constructive comments” has gained a global teen fanbase since launching last summer, according to Daily Post.
However the site, named after the Arabic word for ‘honesty’, has sparked fears from parents after being notoriously used as a weapon for cyberbullying.
There have been several alleged cases of children being told to “self harm” and even to “kill themselves” by anonymous users, a 12-year-old boy from Caernarfon has also been targeted by trolls on the app .
Kaiden Pritchard, who has just returned home to North Wales after enduring eight months of gruelling cancer treatment in the USA and England, was called “bald” and “ugly” by bullies believed to be using Sarahah.
His mum, Hayley Pritchard is now appealing to all parents not to allow their children on these kind of apps.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sarahah and why parents around the window are calling for it to be banned.
What is Sarahah and how does it work?
Sarahah is a messaging app that encourages anonymous “constructive comments”.
Creators claim it can be used as a “self development tool” to “discover areas of improvement” and was originally intended for people to use in the workplace.
But since launching last June, it has grown into a giant social-networking app among teenagers around the world – in particular throughout the middle east.
It is said to have over 300 million users worldwide and can be used in conjunction with Snapchat.
Users sign up for Sarahah either on the website or by downloading the app which is free on the Apple App Store and on Google Play and then share their usernames to contact each other.
It claims to help highlight “strengths and areas for improvement” through receiving “honest” feedback, according to its official website .
It’s all done anonymously and privately and it never reveals the identity of those who send feedback or comments to users – meaning those who have received feedback are unable to respond to messages.
It is now becoming a phenomenon in the UK and in the United States where it reached number one in the Apple download charts last August.
Why are parents calling for it to be banned?
Fears that vulnerable teenagers at risk from bullying, self harming and committing suicide are concerning parents and children’s organisations around the world.
The mother of a 13-year-old girl from Queensland, Australia, has launched a petition to shut down the app – and all other similar anonymous messaging apps – after her daughter was told to kill herself by bullies using Sarahah, the Daily Mail reports.
Katrina said she’s terrified her daughter will suffer the same fate as Amy Jayne Everett, also known as Dolly, who tragically ended her life earlier this month aged 14 following relentless online tormenting.
Dolly was also from Queensland.
She said after reading articles about the tragic death, she had been more inspired than ever to “protect our most vulnerable”.
Another teenager in the UK was found hanged earlier last year after allegedly being bullied on a similar app called Sayat.Me, which was shut down in May last year.
What are other people saying about Sarahah?
US-based non-governmental organisation, Common Sense Media, has said Sarahah is not recommended for children and said it is ready-made for “cyberbullying”.
“Sarahah is easy to use, so kids won’t have any trouble figuring out how to operate the app,” a Common Sense Media writer says .
“But because all comments are anonymous, it’s very easy for people to say mean and hurtful things without any repercussions.”
The Apple App Store has also seen several reviews suggesting that Sarahah is being used for cyberbullying.
One reviewer who commented last week, said: “Allows people to bully others, I have seen people with death on other people’s family members through this and honestly leads to depression and people getting upset.
“Children and teenagers are getting told to self harm, kill themselves and that nobody likes them.
“Allows an easy path to bullying, of course there are nice comments but there’s always someone who thinks it’s funny to knock people’s confidence and self esteem.”
Another reviewer recently commented: “It was enjoyable to use but it can very easily be used for bullying or emotionally hurting anyone.”
The Common Sense Media writer adds: “Reviews on the App Store indicate that Sarahah is being used as a cyberbullying tool.
“For these reasons, Sarahah is not appropriate for kids.”
How to stay safe using Sarahah
The NSPCC has released guidelines to help you keep your child safe whilst using Sarahah:
- Talk to your child regularly about what they are doing on Sarahah. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen.
- Explore the site with your child. Understand why they like using Sarahah and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.
- Agree rules about what’s okay and what isn’t when using sites, apps and games. You can use our Family Agreement template to help you get started.
- Manage your technology and use the settings available to keep your child safe.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Apps that allow anonymous comments can be worrying as they could potentially be misused by online bullies to send abusive or upsetting messages.
We’d encourage children using Sarahah not to share their username publicly to limit who can communicate with them on the app.
“Our advice for parents is to talk to your child regularly about what they are doing on apps like Sarahah and encourage them to speak to you if they see something upsetting.