In September of 2013, a 12-year-old girl committed suicide after harmful messages were sent to her through a social networking application, states CNN. These messages told the girl that she should die, asked her why she was still alive and were sent through a bullying app called Ask.fm. This application is one of a few lesser known social applications that allow users in Illinois to download for free and create a fake identification to torment their peers.
The danger of not knowing
Since these applications are not as well known as more mainstream social media sites, like Instagram and Facebook, many parents are unaware of their children’s technological activities. For example, the mother of the 12-year-old girl closed down her daughter’s Facebook account, enrolled her at a different school and believed that she was doing everything in her power to stop the cyber bullying from occurring.
Many parents do not know that bullying is happening until a tragedy occurs when children use applications like Kik, Ask.fm, Voxer and Snapchat. To combat these dangers, a spokeswoman for Kik said that their company works with law enforcement agencies throughout the entire world to ensure that their users are safe and has added new features to prevent harassment over the past few years. For instance, users now have the ability to block other users without notifying them that they have been blocked. However, these features are not always enough to stop the bullying from occurring.
Why do teenagers download these apps?
Many wonder why teenagers continue to download these applications despite their reputation for fostering harmful comments. According to a professor at Florida Atlantic University, these social networking applications appeal to users because they provide affirmation and validation. For instance, on Ask.fm, which allows users to ask others a questions, teenagers may feel satisfied that someone took the time to access their profile and ask them a question.
What parents can do
Parents who are concerned that their children are bullying victims often feel overwhelmed at the prospect of monitoring all of their children’s online activities. Parents can empower themselves by familiarizing themselves with new technology that their children are using and remaining involved in both their children’s offline and online activities. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that parents need to ban their children from using certain applications.
Parents with a child who is the victim of cyberbullying may not know what actions to take to stop the harassment. In this situation, parents may benefit from turning to an attorney who can take legal action against their child’s bully.