Tellonym is just another of a long list of apps that want to allow teenagers to leave each other anonymous feedback. Do you remember Sarahah from the summer of 2016? It was eventually removed from the Apple App Store because of the bullying that was taking place. Tellonym will eventually suffer the same fate, but in the meantime, they’re popular enough that parents should know a few specifics.
Description: TELLONYM lets you “answer anonymous questions and ask others the things you have never dared before.” People share their Tellonym link with others through social platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram, and wait for friends to reply to questions anonymously. Users can follow each other and send each other anonymous messages. Like most social media-like platforms, a home feed displays all messages addressed to a user, and push notifications alert users whenever a new message or “tell” is delivered. Users can block and report people who send hurtful or harassing messages and can set a filter that recognizes words the user determines.
Company website: https://tellonym.me/
APP Store rating: 12+
Millions of users! boasts 10+ million monthly users. It’s a German app, and it seems that a majority of its user base is outside of the United States. Ok, that’s only 1% the size of Instagram, but it’s a massive start.
It’s free. It has to make money somehow. We just couldn’t figure out how.
Anonymity is almost never a good idea for teens. They already struggle with wisdom. Do you know why? It’s mostly neurological, because the pre-frontal cortex is still under construction. This means that impulse behaviors are common. The volatile, developing teenage brain doesn’t need addition reasons to act rashly!
Cyber bulling is rampant. UK educators are sounding the alarm with parents. Bullying thrives wherever anonymity lives. People can send me random questions to answer and if I do, I don’t even know who sent the question, but when I answer it, my answers stick to my social wall. Conversely, I can post a question that I want people to answer about me. That’s the issue.
The app is trying to make people act with civility. There’s moderation. There are very clear community guidelines. In the personal profile, clicking the settings gear in the upper right, you can set safety levels for sexual harassment, offensive language, and spam using a sliding scale as shown below in the middle image.
Further on in the settings, you’ll find more options, including the ability to block users but also connect social media platforms to the app, as shown in the right-hand screen shot.
The app actually does a decent job of promoting good behavior and appropriate use. When you create an account, if you indicate you’re under 16, you’ll need a parent to approve the registration process, which is quite progressive.
Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, people still misbehave.
There are a few hidden doorways to Google if you poke around in the terms and conditions, which can give kids unmonitored access to the web.
This is one of many reasons to use a clean DNS on your internet-ready devices, so that if a hidden search engine is discovered, you can be assured that the search will obey certain rules.
Related post: How to Block Porn on Any Device. For Free.
The age limitations are dreadfully inconsistent. The app itself (shown above) says you need to be 16. The Apple App Store says 12 is the right age. If you read the terms and conditions, you’ll become even more confused since it is not consistent.
The app might be appropriate for kids who are at least old enough to have a drivers license, but otherwise, it’s just not for most kids for obvious reasons. Here’s one of the first app reviews in Google Play:
“I think this app is a disgrace – it’s a platform for cyber bullying and should not be allowed. Teenagers are using it to rant abuse at others and it’s just not fair for the youngsters on the receiving end of the comments. I don’t know why it’s not been taken off the Internet already.. Bullying of any kind is just not on too many young people are taking their own lives because of bullying shame on you.”
In the foolish pool of anonymity we find many apps who thought teens could handle their features. Afterschool. Whisper. Lipsi. Sarahah. And, now we add Tellonym.
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