Sarahah is an app that snuck up the charts over the past weeks. It was originally put on the app store in June but is already sitting at number one on the free app charts in iOS. This app allows you to leave anonymous comments about people. The idea is that, since it’s completely anonymous, you can be honest and say what you really think. This can obviously lead to some really encouraging and uplifting posts, maybe it could cause a crush to reveal themselves, but definitely, it will cause mean people to do what mean people do. The risk of bullying on this app is very very high.
This isn’t the first app of its kind but none have risen in popularity so quickly. “Sarahah” is the Arabic word for honesty, the app’s website describes the goal of the app simply:
“Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.”
Again, the app is very new but development is happening fast (five updates since its June 13th release) and the app promises more features to come. Something like a planet icon on the bottom of the screen seems to hint at a future explore or discover page and they mention on their site that they’re studying an option to allow users to reply to the comments that come through Sarahah. The appeal of the app is obvious, most of us wish we could say whatever we are thinking to someone and there are also those of us that wish we could hear exactly what people think of us all the time. This may be fun or even cathartic for grown adults, but when teens and tweens are in the throes of development, hormones, and emotion, is this app a good idea?
What Parents Should Know
My Facebook feed has begun to blow up with Sarahah messages that have been screenshotted and shared. Most of the ones I see are people celebrating a super nice comment they got from someone but I’ve seen a few that were laughing at the commenter who was being a jerk. Those I’ve seen on Sarahah were adults, mostly because I don’t follow many young people on Facebook but there is no doubt, seeing this app climb the charts like it did, that there are younger users too. Parents should be cautioned that this app is rated 17+ for unrestricted web access, profanity, and adult humor. The issue is that since anyone who wants can post whatever they want (it’s called user generated content) it’s next to impossible to ensure there will be no adult content on the app. Secondly, I warn parents, as I did above, about the dangers of bullying through this app. The bully follows our kids around in their pocket and this app gives them the ability to say whatever they want without any way to identify who they are.
There is already an epidemic of kids feeling like they can say whatever they want online without consequence. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case because the one reading what is written feels real emotions based on what’s been said. The ability to be completely anonymous could cause kids to be even crueler and could even lead to kids who wouldn’t say anything mean to some one actually doing it because they don’t see how they can be identified as the culprit. You can block users who you don’t want to message you anymore but once you’ve done that the damage could already be done.
My advice is to disallow this app on your kids’ phones. You can do it the old fashion way by looking at their phone yourself and uninstalling that app if you see it. You can also set age restrictions in the app store or parental control/restrictions options on your kids’ devices. This should block Sarahah since it’s rated 17+. As an adult, maybe you enjoy this app, I would advise caution to you too. Not only are you putting yourself out there to be spoken to anonymously by anyone who could say whatever they want but you’re also setting an example for your kids.