An Open Letter to Teens Who Use Ask.fm; Read, Post, & Share
I spend my days teaching Internet Safety to schools, parents, and students just like you. I never have to explain to students what Ask.fm is, because you already know and chances are you have a profile. (If you don’t know what Ask.fm is – read this article for the low-down)
You already know that Ask.fm is not a safe place to share information. I don’t know why some teachers and even parents treat teens and tweens like they’re stupid – clearly you’re not.
You already know that:
- Ask.fm has been linked to suicides all over the world
- Because Ask.fm is an anonymous site, lots of trolls will hide behind that anonymity and engage in nasty behavior
- Many of your friends (or you) have already been bullied. Most of the so-called bullying isn’t a big deal because you and your friends know who the person is and you just ignore it. But sometimes it gets ugly, and sometimes it’s hard to get away from. And sometimes it really hurts, and most of the time you act like it doesn’t
Dealing with Pressure
Parents constantly ask me – “if this is all true, then why do the kids keep going back onto the site, and sites like this?”. Here’s what I tell them – and if I’m wrong I want you to tell me (tweet me here). I tell parents that you like to be connected to your friends, and even when it’s overwhelming and gets annoying (or certain people get annoying), you’d rather put up with the annoying and remain connected, it’s one of your only outlets even at the best or worst of times.
Your generation has an immense amount of pressure coming from all sides. Many parents expect you to always put forward an immense amount of effort on everything. Sometimes it feels like you can’t get anything right. Then there’s the social pressure at school added to the academic pressure, added to the pressure to be a sports-kid even if you don’t want to be a sports-kid; add in thinking about college or NOT thinking about college and sometimes it feels like you want to pop.
I get it. Seriously, I get it. (PS Hang in there, it gets better. And believe it or not, your parents are there to help.)
Is Ask.fm Evil?
Then parents ask me – “why are these companies allowed to exist if they’re harmful to our kids?”. Now that’s a better question. So here’s the thing – Ask.fm did not create their platform to cause harm. I don’t believe for a second that they are malicious people, or that they’re happy when young people commit suicide or get involved in sextortion, or worse. HOWEVER, their business is NOT to care about you. Did you hear that? Their business is to make money, that’s all.
And when you are a company hoping to make millions, or ten of millions of dollars off of young people, sometimes you assume that your audience is stupid. Make no mistake, most of the companies which market to young people think that you are a bunch of morons. Don’t forget this point.
- Sneaker companies think that YOU really believe that just buying those new kicks are going to make you faster/better/stronger.
- Ladies: clothing companies think that YOU really believe that those “women’s” pants (made for a 5 year old) are going to look the same on you as they do on the photoshopped model in the ad.
- Guys: deodorant companies think that you REALLY believe that if you use their stinky products that hot chicks will maul you in an elevator.
- And Ask.fm wants you to believe that communicating online anonymously is a smart and valuable use of your time.
You’re not stupid. You see other kids all over the world committing suicide or at the very minimum getting their feelings hurt on this totally unnecessary platform. And you know that there are eleventy-gajillion other ways to communicate with each other. You certainly don’t need Ask.fm to connect to your friends – you already do that in a bunch of different way. So why do it?
What to do now
Here’s what I’m asking you to do:
- Deactivate your Ask.fm account
Log into your account, go to [Settings] in the top right hand corner of the page, go to the profile page and chose the [Disable Account] option.
- Send a tweet or Instagram post to the companies who advertise on Ask.fm just to make sure that THEY know that you aren’t stupid (see list below)
Be sure to use the hashtag #dontaskfm
- Spread the word to your entire social network
- Pat yourself on the back, you’ve proven that you won’t grow up to be a total jerk
Oh, and just one last thing – stop taking pictures of your junk. It’s going to land you in jail. But that’s another topic.
Now get to work!!
Let’s tell these advertisers what we think
Click each and every image below – it will retweet the message to let these companies know that they need to stop advertising on Ask.fm
JustFab Online (US)
Just Fab – in the UK
Read more from the Internet Safety Blog
- VIDEO: Internet Safety: Before you buy your child a digital device – think safety
- VIDEO: Internet Safety Expert : Jesse Weinberger on WKYC-Cleveland to Discuss Cyberbullying and Internet Safety
- Internet Safety: Best Parenting Practices to Keep Children, Tweens, and Teens Safe in the Digital World
- Internet Safety for Parents: Being proactive is the only defense for your tweens, teens, and family
- Parents of teens WAKE UP! Fake Facebook account contributes to the abduction and murder of 15 year old Nichole Cable in Maine
- Entire High School Football Team Gets Suspended Because of Cyberbullying on Ask.fm
- A Cleveland Teen is Murdered After a Facebook Argument – aka Internet Safety Basics: DON’T Feed the Trolls
- California Senate Bill 568: The “Eraser Bill” Will Accidentally Hurt the Cause of Internet Safety
- Adults and Kids: Stop Being Stupid. The “Gonna-Be” Posts Are Going To Get You: Robbed, Kidnapped, Assaulted
Jesse Weinberger is an Internet Safety Expert, presenter, and the owner of OvernightGeek University. She has been teaching parents, schools, and students how to
navigate online and mobile risks since 2003. Jesse is available for presentations to schools, parents, students, and organizations.
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