Many of you thought you dodged Ask.fm, and now there is Sarahah. If you're still in the dark on this one, just Google it and you will find a few insightful articles.
Here are a few strategies to navigate this newest app, while providing essential lessons for your teenager's growth and well being:
With anonymous apps like Sarahah, we need to be asking our kids (non-judgmentally) why he/she wants the app. Ask your child: What are the potential positives and negatives of this app? (Make a list!) What "anonymous feedback" are you hoping to receive? (Perhaps share what type of feedback you'd, hypothetically, like to receive. Relate!) Are there any risks to this app? (Have your child do his/her homework and educate YOU! What do the online reviews and articles say?)
Here's some helpful hints: Listen mindfully, and stay open to what your child has to say. She will likely say, "I just want to know what people really think of me! I'm just going to try it once, it's no big deal." If you say, "it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks..it only matters what YOU think" or "that's such a waste of time!" you're only furthering the disconnect between you and your child. Instead, say something like, "we all care about what others think of us, but I'm not so sure I would want to know what EVERYONE thinks! I wonder how I'd feel just seeing a negative comment in writing. Ugh!" This realization is the benefit of your wise-old-age, but recognizes the truth that we all DO care what others think on some level. Your child will appreciate your honesty, and may ask follow-up questions on how to handle these feelings (and how to keep them "in-check"). One piece of advice I found always works with teens is this: At the end of the day, everyone is going home to their own lives, and their own sets of problems. Someday, we will realize that people haven't been thinking about us at all!
Try an Activity:
As a family, talk about how often you judge others. Most of us spend a lifetime doing so, and in fact, it’s so common that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Luckily, most of us keep our judgments to ourselves (thank goodness)! Imagine if everyone said everything that was on their mind each time they walked by someone?
During your discussion, talk about this family challenge for the next day:
Challenge each family member to notice when they’re judging another person during the day (this could be a stranger, friend, co-worker, teacher, or even your own family member). For each person you judge, "FLIP-IT" and say something positive about that person (either to yourself…or even better, out loud!) You can also approach the judgement with kindness and curiosity, such as, "I wonder why she acts that way in class" or, "I wonder why he never wears clean clothes."
For example, your daughter walks onto her bus and notices a classmate wearing an ugly green jacket. She recognizes that she's judging her (because you've had this conversation) and instead, observes that the girl is always reading. She must be interesting and intelligent! Your daughter might even choose to say, "It's awesome that you read a lot!" or more simply, "What are you reading?"
At the end of the day, ask everyone in the family how their day went. How did it feel to shift from negative to positive? Your daughter might say, "I noticed a girl on my bus wearing this ugly coat...but then I remembered to be kind and curious. I thought that maybe the coat was a hand-me-down because she has so many siblings. Maybe it's not her choice to wear that coat. I also thought that I was judging her on what she wore, when I was actually missing out on the fact that she's probably a really interesting person. She reads all the time, and I actually admire her for that. When I asked her what she was reading, she smiled, and told me about this really cool book."
Ask your family members: how did it make you feel (complimenting someone or understanding someone better)? You can also ask, how do you think it made the other person feel?
Circle the conversation back to Sarahah. Has your child's perspective on this app changed? How easy would it be for someone to make a quick (and hurtful) judgement on this app? Is there room for kindness and curiosity online?
Something to consider!