I wrote about Sarahah and even discussed it on our podcast a while back but there are competitors for the anonymous messaging app now and they’re climbing the App Store charts. Polly and TBH (To Be Honest) are taking the social media category by storm. These apps are made to allow people to communicate with each other anonymously and share their deepest secrets. They encourage downloads with phrases like “Learn who likes you.” or “What do your friends really think?” Are these apps harmless or is this a disaster waiting to happen?
Polly is a polling app that allows you to create a link to questions you want your friends to answer and share a link in Snapchat. Polls are recommended at random and range from “What’s my spirit animal?” to “What is something I’m really good at?” Or you can create your own. One of the samples on the app store images is the question “What am I to you?” with answers like “Friend, Enemy, and Crush.” Polly boasts the following features:
• Create a Polly lightning fast
• Add your Bitmoji to be more stylish
• Customize your Polly’s look & feel to reflect your vibe
• Just 1-tap to add it to your Snapchat Story
• Get notified when your friends vote
• Track the results to all of your Pollys in one place
• Share a screenshot of the results with your friends
Polly is rated for ages 4 plus.
TBH, which stands for To Be Honest, calls the app a combination of ask.fm and Sarahah. TBH allows you to ask people questions about you and allow them to answer anonymously. You can add yourself and your friends as answers to the questions so you can be voted on by your friends. The testimonials in the app highlight the fact that users feel good about themselves because they’ve been picked in the polls they’ve set up.
From the app store description: “That tbh app makes me feel so good about myself”
“tbh is really having a positive impact on people”
TBH is only available in ten states because you have to choose your school from a list when you sign up for the app. This means you’re polling the people who attend school with you. The app basically sets up a network of high school and college kids who attend the same school and allows them to secretly say what they really feel about each other.
What Parents Should Know
The question stands, what do we, as parents, think about our teens posting anonymous messages about each other. Is it a good idea for our kids to be revealing their deepest thoughts about their friends. Sometimes, yes, it could lead to kids starting or strengthening their friendships, but how likely is that to be the norm? Remember what it was like when you were a teenager. Remember the jealousy and shallowness of your feelings toward the other kids around you? In a world ruled by hormones and feelings, it’s tough for me to see anonymous messages, question and answer sessions, and polls as a good way for our kids to communicate. Maybe we should be encouraging them to make eye contact and speak to their friends and potential romantic interests in a way that puts everything on the line.
Your kids need to understand two things. First of all, nothing is ever truly anonymous online. The sense of secrecy in these apps is really a facade and someone knows who they are. Secondly, the words they say and the votes they cast may seem fun and silly but they can have very real consequences. The teenage psyche can be fragile. Putting someone’s emotions out there waiting to be crushed with too many negative votes in an anonymous poll seems, at least to me, to be a very dangerous proposition. I’m going to recommend uninstalling these apps if you see them. Disagree? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear why.