1. What is Qooh.me?
A social site that is very popular with children, Qooh.me (pronounced as Q.me) allows anonymous people to ask any question to those who create an account. It is a platform where users from around the world can ask and answer questions, anonymously.
The person asking questions doesn’t need to join the site.
The questions users are asked, go into their Qooh.me inbox and are not visible to others. If you choose to answer a question, the question and your answer becomes public on your Qooh.me profile, your Facebook wall/Instagram/twitter account (if you choose to).
After joining the site, many users update their social media accounts such as Facebook or Instagram, with posts like: ‘I’m ready for your anonymous questions catch me on www.qooh.me/username‘. Thus, children often advertise their username on other profiles, so that they are easy to find and can interact more.
2. Where is the problem?
Similar to any other anonymous messaging site, one stumbles across innocent questions such as “Which is your favorite animal?” or “Who is your best friend?” However, some of the questions are often very unpleasant and when the user replies, their answer will appear on their public profile, opening them up to further hurtful engagement. Moreover, there is use of explicit language in the questions & answers and inappropriate content like, “Who wants to see my nu@*s?” is not uncommon. A good deal of the questions center around bitching, bullying, sex and self-harm.
Some users publicly give away their age and location. Even if you are not friends with them, through the information shared in their posts, one can easily locate their Facebook and Instagram profiles.
To create an account all you need is a user name and a password, add your email address and you’re in. To ask a question you don’t even have to log in or create an account. All you need to know is the person’s username. You could even look up anyone whether you know them or not. If questions are inappropriate, there is no way users can be reported or blocked. Moreover, there’s absolutely no way to know who has asked or answered them.
Since there are no age restrictions, no privacy settings, no ability to block offensive users (other than by ignoring their questions), you immediately have a melting pot that’s rife with cyberbullying and a platform for spreading hate and hurt. Even Qooh.me acknowledges that they have noticed “a lot of haters on the site” and advise users to delete all offensive questions. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t seem to have any control or moderation over the content.
Such an unrestricted, unmonitored digital platform where users, including adults, can remain anonymous while interacting with children creates a potentially dangerous environment where abuse and cyberbullying can flourish.
3. What attracts young users to Qooh.me?
Why do kids feel the need to have friends or total strangers ask them questions, which are often of personal or intimate in nature. What compels them to share their inner most thoughts with the rest of the ‘World’ Wide Web?
The appeal of other social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat is pretty understandable – they offer a platform for conversing, connecting and engaging. On the contrary, there are no real conversations, no creative photo edits, no check-ins, no ‘showing-off’ on Qooh.me
Kids are really just putting themselves out there to possibly be bullied, trolled, ridiculed and embarrassed. This site doesn’t seem to serve any positive purpose.
Even more worrisome is that fact that kids are asking questions about other kids, so even if your child is not on it, their peer group is talking about them, making comments and bullying …all in a public domain that is open for anyone to see, including parents, educators and potential employers.
It is obviously the “Anonymity” factor which is luring more and more children to sign in and have fun, without being recognized. Unfortunately, most parents are not aware that this site even exists, let alone that their kids are prolific users of Qooh.me.
Maybe the real question parents need to be asking their children is…..Are you on this site? If so, why do you feel the need?
P.S: Read more about ‘how to protect your child from being bullied on Qooh.me’ in our upcoming blog.