ASKfm Safety Guidelines for Parents

Social Web Tips for Parentsshutterstock_28533754

At ASKfm, we value partnerships. We work alongside law enforcement, educators and parents provide a safer experience, especially our teenage users. We feel a strong responsibility to the hundreds of millions of people who use our service every month, many of whom are under the age of 18. We are committed to educating and empowering our community or users – Teens, Parents, Educators, and Law Enforcement – with tools and information so ASKfm users of all ages can take control of their experience, and make it not only as safe as possible, but fun, positive and fulfilling too.

As a result, our safety team works non-stop to protect our community. Here are just a few examples of how ASKfm is working to protect our youngest users:

  • Restricting searches for harmful or illegal sexual content on the site
  • Reviewing images uploaded to the service for harmful or illegal content
  • Increasing the ability to report abuse throughout the site
  • Prioritizing any reports of bullying, harassment, or inappropriate questions
  • Preventing minors under the age of 13 from registering on the site (if you believe your child or other children, under the age of 13, has an ASKfm profile, please Contact Us. You can also report a profile: see how here)
  • Building a team of in-house industry seasoned experts and veteran safety consultants to guide policy development and safety procedures
  • Empowering users on how to protect themselves through comprehensive safety guides
  • Creating the technical capacity to allow users to opt-out of anonymous questions or delete inappropriate content with just one click
  • Providing users with the ability to block or “unfollow” other users
  • Prioritizing all requests by law enforcement and responding to all reports of illegal activity in an aggressive and proactive manner
  • Partnering with parents, educators, community agencies and law enforcement to enhance safety guidelines

Online safety is a serious endeavor, and parents are some of the most important partners we have when it comes to keeping our website safe and entertaining for teens. ASKfm has dedicated significant resources to maintaining a safer community, and the tips below highlight a few ways parents can help keep their teenagers safer online.

Explore our website.

The best way to understand what your teenagers are doing online is to experience it firsthand. As parents, we encourage you to join ASKfm and become familiar with our service offerings. This way, you can engage in open and honest conversations with your teens about what they’re reading online and how to positively incorporate digital experiences into their lives. Parents can visit http://ask.fm/signup to start an ASKfm account of their own.

In this day and age, teens are quickly outpacing adults when it comes to being tech savvy. By becoming more familiar with the technologies and apps your teens are using, you will be better prepared to engage with your teen about potential risks and how to address any concerns that arise.

Talk about it.

No one knows our teen users better than their parents. Communicating with your teenagers about their online experiences goes a long way when it comes to offering teens enough space to grow and learn on the Internet while also feeling comfortable about their safety. Below are a few areas to discuss with your teens:

  • Have an ongoing dialogue about strategies to stay safer online and set up a regular meeting time to talk about what’s happening in your teen’s digital life.
  • Review general safety guidelines, including the importance of password safety and keeping personal information private.
  • Discuss the role of anonymous questions on ASKfm and whether your teen should set their account to accept questions anonymously. For specific information on how to do this see our Safety Tools and your account Privacy Settings.
  • Familiarize yourself with the ASKfm Blocking and reporting tools. Discuss your expectations with your teen and make sure they understand the procedures on how to delete inappropriate content and block other users. For specific information on how to block and delete content on ASKfm, read about our Safety Tools.
  • Remind your teen that they are not obligated to answer a question if they are not comfortable. Unanswered questions can be blocked, reported, deleted or just ignored. Regardless, unanswered questions are private and not published on your teen’s profile page or in the Stream.
  • Discuss the legal implications of posting threatening or sexualized content online. For more information on compliance with laws and rules of conduct related to ASKfm, visit http://ask.fm/about/safety/terms-of-service.
  • Explore the longevity of digital information, or their “digital footprint,” and clearly define inappropriate content for your teen. Review your teen’s ASKfm Stream together.
  • Describe phishing scams and review techniques for verifying the authenticity of information. Be aware of sites that claim to reveal anonymous users – they are trying to trick your teen into revealing private information or downloading malicious software.
  • Talk about the friends your teen is making online and explore how those relationships can be maintained in a healthy and safe manner.

Monitor for alarming behavior.

More than anything, it is important to monitor your teen’s behavior for any concerning signs. This may include withdrawal from friends and family, lower self-esteem, or other notable changes in personality. If you notice any warning signs at all, please trust your instincts and get help.

Implement software and parent tools.

Although Internet dangers are an increasing concern for parents, technology is working to address this problem head on. Research parent tools and safety settings on websites and electronic devices, and make sure your anti-malware software and operating systems are always current.

Set clear safety rules about devices and Internet usage.

Develop clear guidelines about your expectations for digital technology use. Define what appropriate and respectful content means to you, and limit the use of electronic devices to public spaces. Know where your devices are at all times, and think about establishing a safety contract with your teen to outline exactly how the Internet will be used in your home.

Understand the threat of cyberbullying.

Words create lasting impressions, and the hurt from cyberbullying is real and can feel almost impossible to escape. Cyberbullying is far different from the school-yard bullying of the past, and it is important to understand what it means to bully someone online and to watch for warning signs that your own teen might be a victim. Most importantly, create a zero tolerance policy when it comes to threatening, harassing, or disrespectful behavior online and get help immediately if your teen is dealing with cyberbullying.

Contact ASKfm whenever you need help.

If you have any questions about safety on ASKfm, please refer to our guide to ASKfm Safety Tools first. If this guide does not answer your question, feel free to contact us directly through Contact Us. We will do our best to respond to you within 24 hours.

If your teen has a problem with another user, or with something another user posted, you should immediately report that content to ASKfm by using our reporting tools. We evaluate ALL reports, and we will do our best to solve the situation. Your teen also has the option to block another user and prevent that person from sending any more questions.

If your teen is having problems with something or someone on ASKfm, it can be helpful to talk about it or reach out to another trusted adult. Please direct them to the ASKfm Safety Center, Teen Safety Guide and Terms of Service for more information. Everything that parents and teens need to know about safety on ASKfm is made available on the site. For more information to help keep your loved ones safe and informed, visit http://askfmsafety.4mf.co/safety-tools/.

Get additional information on various safety topics at the following locations.