TELLOYMN joins a growing family of anonymous messaging applications including Sarahah, Ask.FM and Line. These platforms have evolved into an online environment rife with insults, inappropriate content and regular online bullying.
Why are anonymous messenger apps so popular among teenagers? They are forums which conceal the users identity and location and enable #TBH (to be honest) commenting. TELLONYM encourages users to "answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before" making it appealing for curious teens seeking social acceptance and an opportunity to ask embarrassing questions among their peer groups.
To create an account, users are required to provide an email address or a phone contact, as well as acknowledge that they are 17 years old or under. A simple YES or NO response is required with no age verification process. TELLONYM encourages users to link their Snapchat and Instagram profiles, and like these platforms, encourages users to connect and build a following. Anyone can ask you a question and when you respond this becomes public on your profile for all who view your profile to see. It is common to witness negative or inappropriate questioning with replies/responses tending to being defensive, aggressive or offensive in nature.
The online anonymity that is present within TELLONYM is cultivating a negative, cruel and hurtful culture among online groups of young users. While users have the ability to block and report harmful behaviour, this will only ever take place after the damaging or bullying behaviour has occurred.
We recommend using the following points to stimulate a discussion with your own children or students in your class that highlight key issues surrounding TELLONYM and similar anonymous messaging applications:
Tuesday the 6th of February 2018 was Safer Internet Day. An international day with the theme to 'create, connect and share respect' online. Countless schools engaged in specific lessons around the awareness of emerging issues on the internet and how to be a respectful and responsible digital citizen. Safer Internet Day is truly a fantastic initiative and has certainly generated plenty of discussion amongst children and adults, with many news and media outlets reporting about it on the day. As great as Safer Internet Day is, we feel it also provides a conflicting safety message. To think that a single day is all it takes to be safe and respectful online is missing the point.
How can we keep the momentum of Safer Internet Day going?
Whilst days like 'Safer Internet Day' act as a timely reminder to all who live, work and play online, this week offers an opportunity for parents (and those who work with young people) a timely reminder to plan a longer term, proactive approach to tackling this complex problem. We highly encourage you to use the momentum of Safer Internet Day to have an informed and productive discussion with your children or the young the people in your care about this topic.
The Cyber Safety Project has developed the following conversation tips cue card outlining 5 questions to ask your child/tween/young adult/mum/dad/granny (as we all should be across internet safety) about their habits and behaviours when engaging on digital platforms.
Questions Rational - Here is the thinking behind each of these questions:
Question 1: “How many followers do you have?”
This can be quite an open ended question that will offer multiple responses. More often than not multiple platforms are being accessed on a daily basis (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Music.ly, Kik) therefore you should seek multiple answers. If the number seems quite high, for example if a 13 year old says they have 346 followers, some follow up questions could include:
Question 2: “Other than Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube what are the three apps you would use the most?”
These social media platforms are the obvious 'BIG 4'. Knowing that their parents and carers use these platforms themselves, young people are seeking alternative social networking avenues. This question provides insight into other social networking sites or games that your child might be using. We can't stress the important of exploring these apps and games for yourself to expose their functionality. Within any App Store Social Networking category, it is generally the second tier apps and games that are being used by younger users. New platforms are constantly being released and reviewed as their popularity rises and falls, each with different ways children can connect and communicate with unknown users.
Question 3: “What time do you think everyone in the house should put their devices away?”
So much of the ongoing research around student behaviour and learning is around the individuals ability to self-regulate. The ability to monitor their own behaviour to positively influence their own well-being. These questions prompt the child/tween/mum/dad/granny to reflect on why the ability to remove oneself from the device and engage with their peers, family and friends is so important. These habits and 'at home' expectations plays a huge part in the overall digital wellbeing of the users and influences the daily usage, device reliance, sleep patterns and wellbeing. Have you and your family got a 'Device and Internet Use Agreement'? It might sound formal but designing this together offers an opportunity to lay down some ground rules and hold each accountable (mum/dad/granny) included. Tip: Parents play the biggest role in setting standards. Modelling and adhering to your families 'Device and Internet Use Agreement' is paramount.
Question 4: "How do you know something is ok to share/post?”
Permission is KING! Too many people, regardless of age, find themselves in hot water because of their own naivety in assuming that something is 'ok' for you to post. Our own digital reputation can be depicted through not only through what we post, but by what other people post of us. So make it reciprocal! Always ask permission before you post a photo of others and expect it in return.
Question 5: "What does it feel like when someone posts something about you online?”
You maybe surprises around why this question is so important! 36% of EVERYTHING that is posted online is categorised as negative, hurtful or inappropriate. Whether it’s the 'keyboard warriors' making comment towards a sports star they don’t like, a negative emoji or a vicious comment towards someone you know, these "negative posts", happen too often. Talking to your child regularly about practical strategies, ways to avoid such negativity online and monitoring will mean their continued online experience is as positive as possible and always at the front of mind.
Knowledge is power, so having regular conversations with your child around their digital habits can give you the best chance at early intervention and support the young people in your care with the best strategies to have a positive digital experience.
We hope you enjoyed these conversation tips, please let us know how your conversations went in the comments or on Facebook!
Cyber Safety Project.
The Cyber Safety Project are committed to staying current in this constantly changing digital world. These blog and vlog posts provide insight to families about new trends, potential dangers online and effective strategies to maintain safe and respectful digital behaviours for parents, children, schools and the wider community.