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How can an app lead to cyberbullying?

Educator, administrator and parental awareness is key to preventing online abuse and cyberbullying

ask_fm-logo-200x200Can’t remember the name of that great restaurant you went to last night? How many miles it is the moon? Type any question into a search engine and you’ll likely find an answer and an app for that within a few clicks.

One app is taking the curiosity of the average internet surfer to a whole new level.

Inspired by the internet’s vast question-and-answer capabilities, founders of Ask.fm created a tool for teenagers to ask and answer questions. What makes it unique is that users can choose to submit questions and answers anonymously.

The option allows people to be “bolder and more honest,” according to the Ask.fm website. But this can yield heartbreaking results.

After the suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith last year, Smith’s father found posts on her Ask.fm account telling her to die. Later in the investigation, authorities found that she sent most of the hate messages to herself. This is one of at least nine cases of teenage suicides in which those who died were regular Ask.fm users.

(Next page: What educators can do to help stop cyberbullying)

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