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Keeping Your Kids Safe and Protecting Them on Formspring

June 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

formspring Has Formspring become a topic of daily conversation in your house? Or, more likely, you may have heard your teen saying “Formspring” and had no clue what they were talking about.

The idea of Formspring is simple enough. It's a fun, social forum where people ask and answer questions. You can ask one person, a group, or everyone on Formspring.

Questions you might see can be silly (“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?”) or thought-provoking (“Do you think you can love someone who is fundamentally different from you?”) Teens  also use Formspring to take the temperature of what's normal with their peers (“Do you get along with your parents?”)Sounds great, right? 

The problem is that cyberbullying is a rampant problem on Formspring. Anonymous questions are allowed on the site, as well as anonymous answers. Kids can ask mean questions (“Do you think Katie is the biggest ditz in school?”) or open themselves up for abuse (“Am I pretty or ugly?”)

If your child has a Formspring account, talk together about a few simple safety tips that will help keep kids safe on Formspring.

  • Set the account to accept questions from named users only. Formspring accounts accept anonymous questions by default.

  • Or go a step further and check the “protect your account” box to make the account private and accept questions from friends only. Formspring profiles are public and accept questions from everyone by default.

  • Teach your child how to block and report abusive behavior. Formspring asks for details when your child blocks someone so they can investigate possible cyberbullying.

  • Tell your child it's okay to delete the account if it's not fun anymore.

  • If necessary, contact Formspring. They will close the account of users under 18 if their parent requests it.

Formspring can be really fun, and the premise behind it is good. In fact, its basic concept is a lot more interesting to me than the ideas behind other types of social networks. But watch out for cyberbullies.

Cyberbullying is everywhere on the Internet, and cyberbullies tend to flock to sites like Formspring that allow them even more anonymity. So if your child is on Formspring, let them use it safely by familiarizing themselves with the privacy settings and blocking cyberbullies.

-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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