In July 2017, the Sarahah app was the most frequently downloaded free app in Australia. Originally designed as a platform for employees to provide anonymous feedback to their employers, Sarahah is now making global headlines - but not for the right reasons. Named after an Arabic word that roughly translates to ‘frankly’ or ‘honestly’, Sarahah is an app that enables users to anonymously speak their minds without having to take accountability for their words. However, in the hands of teenagers, this app has proven to be an ideal podium for cyberbullies. As the app gains traction amongst children and teenagers, cyber-safety experts and the police are warning parents of the dangers associated with it. In fact, according to App Store reviews, some users have been sexually harassed and bullied over the Sarahah app - with some even reporting that they’ve received death threats.
Download your FREE copy of our essential Cyber Safety eBook and help your children tackle their digital futures safely and securely.
12+ on the Google Play Store
17+ on the App Store
Unrestricted web access
Allows Contact From Unregistered Users
Device Data Collected
The Sarahah app advertises itself as being a “constructive anonymous feedback form” that helps individuals to “self-develop”. It was built on the premise that anonymising communications makes employees feel less inhibited about providing honest and constructive feedback to their employers. This notion is supported by the fact that many hierarchical workplaces ask employees to participate in anonymised surveys in order to measure employee satisfaction and engagement.
In theory, the Sarahah app would be an ideal way for a child to anonymously approach their secret crush. However, in practice, the Sarahah app is less about facilitating constructive feedback amongst friends and peers, and more about giving kids the chance to make hurtful comments without the risk of being identified. And despite what we’ve been led to believe from age-old sayings about sticks and stones, the reality is that words truly can hurt.
The Sarahah app undermines the lessons we teach our children about “doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you”. While we can all agree that confrontation isn’t always pleasant and that even well-intended feedback can be poorly received, what’s important to remember in those situations is that, if you truly believe that what you have to say is both important and justified, then you should be willing to say it to someone’s face.
“Helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and friends privately.” (Source: Sarahah App Store Description)
To gain access to the Sarahah app, you firstly need to download and install it on your device. It requires standard information such as name, email address, and gender. You will need to create a username and password and agree to the terms of service. You’re then provided with a personal link to share with others, which will enable them to provide you with feedback.
You can choose to allow non-registered users to send you messages, or opt only to receive messages from authenticated members. If you allow unregistered members to message you, all they need is the link to your profile.
To give feedback, a person only needs to click onto your page, where they will be redirected to a dialogue box. This is where they can enter whatever message they want to. Those messages appear in your inbox without any details relating to the identity of the sender. Without the sender’s knowing, you are able to favourite, delete, export, or flag their comments. You are not able to reply to messages.
Anonymous apps can foster a negative cyberculture, insofar as they facilitate online bullying without consequences. Placing screens between people can remove empathy from the interaction, and embolden those who wish to hurt others. While it’s not necessarily the apps that are to blame, but rather our social behaviours, the Sarahah app is one that is best for children to avoid in the current online climate.
We understand that saying no isn’t always a solution because children can find ways of accessing prohibited apps without us knowing. If your child is interested in the Sarahah app, or another anonymous feedback platform, we recommend discussing it further with them. You might consider…
Asking your child if they know anyone else using the Sarahah app and what the appeal of it is
Telling them to show you how it works and why they feel it’s beneficial
Discussing how apps like Sarahah can contribute to cyberbullying - and then ask them if they know someone who has been affected by cyberbullying
Sudden changes in online behaviour can signalise harm or risk. Therefore, if you do decide to let your child use the Sarahah app, we highly recommend monitoring their internet usage in order to gauge any changes in their behaviour. The Wangle Family Insites App monitors device usage without spying on private content and sends real-time alerts to parents if threats are detected.