I just talked about how ChatRoulette is the hottest site for teens, a close second is Formspring.me. This is a website where users can create a profile (either with their true identity or a false one) and other users can come and ask them any question they want.
For example, I just went to a random page after searching the name “Sarah”. On this girls page (she looks like a teenager). She has been asked two questions. She might have been asked more, but she cane remove perverse ones or questions she does not want to answer. The two questions on this page are pretty harmless and rather interesting. I have no idea if Sarah knows the people who posted them or if they were posted by strangers.
1. If you were offered the job of the U.S. president would you take the job?
Her answer: ‘no way’
2. Who inspires you most?
Her answer: ‘Coach Gray’
Her answer makes me think that perhaps she knows the person asking the question, since Coach Gray is an answer only people from her high school would know. But who knows?
What Should Parents Know about Formspring.me:
1. Why Teens Use FormSpring.me:
I think that this is actually a symptom of a larger trend going on for this generation. They want to have real discussions. They want to express themselves in more ways than just silly chats and profile pictures. When I interviewed some of our teen interns on this, they said that they loved the idea of being able to respond and express deep answers about themselves. The deep part seemed particularly important. I do not know how deep you can be on a profile on Formspring, but they are trying.
2. Make Sure Anonymity is Key
I would highly recommend parents set the privacy settings on this network, remove any pictures, full names or answers that give away your child’s identity.
3. They Will Get Perverse Answers
Just like you will see a naked man on Chatroulette, you most likely will get a perverse question on your page if you post one. Parents need to be aware of this.
4. Formspring Users Can Be Mean
Because cyberbullying is such a huge issue right now, I think we should consider how sites like Formspring.me play into this. Because users are anonymous they will often post incredibly mean comments on each other’s pictures and answers. This can be hard for a teenager to take. This is a type of digital self-harm. Like cutting, submitting questions to these websites is a way of inflicting pain on oneself.
Overall, I like our parent readers to be aware of the new websites teens are using and know the effects.