On a recent weekend away with some girlfriends, the subject of our kids invariably came up and we discussed the challenges, the achievements, the good, the bad and all that is in between when it comes to raising toddlers, tweens and teens. As some of us are working in counselling and education we often end up talking about our concerns for all kids today, and the challenges we have on both a personal and professional level.
Qooh.me became the focus of one of our conversations as this was causing my school teacher friend the biggest headache at her school and subsequently the rest of us became increasingly concerned.
What is Qooh.me?
Qooh.me is a social networking site whereby anonymous people can ask any question to those that set up an account. They can ask absolutely anything and there are no restrictions on who or what is asked. I will stress that absolutely anything does get asked and answered. Many kids advertise their username on their Instagram or Facebook profile so they are pretty easy to find. We proceeded to peruse the feeds of kids we know as there are no ‘friending’ or ‘following’…simply an open site where anyone is free to view your answers.
Why the need?
I am not sure why kids feel the need to have friends or total strangers ask them questions, often of a personal or intimate nature. I am not sure what it is that makes them compelled to share their inner most thoughts with the rest of the universe.
Whatever your view of sites like Facebook, Instagram and Kik, their appeal is understandable as they are conversing, connecting and engaging. But this site, and others like it, such as ask.fm, leave me feeling a little queasy. There is no real connection with people as more often than not those asking the questions are anonymous. You are not having a conversation, sharing your creative photo edits or even showing off your new pair of shoes. You are really just putting yourself out there to possibly be bullied, trolled, ridiculed and embarrassed. And boy did I see plenty of examples of all of that just from a quick flick through some of the accounts I checked. Sure some of it was harmless “Who is your best friend?” “Whats your favourite sport?”etc But a good deal of the questions centred around bitching, bulllying, sex and self harm.
Usually I would advocate that a couple of social networking sites are ok if we as parents are vigilant in helping our kids use them properly. This one however, serves no positive purpose.
What is also a worry is that kids are asking questions about other kids so even if your child is not on it, they have other people talking about them, making comments and bullying …all in a public domain that is open for anyone to see, including parents, potential employers, teachers and principals.
I am pretty sure a lot of the parents are not aware this site even exists, let alone that their kids are prolific users of it.
Maybe the real question we need to be asking our kids is…..Are you on this site? If so, why do you feel the need?