MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Thirteen-year-old Hanna Kutche and 11-year-old sister, Hailey, say they use the Ask.FM app for the fun of asking and answering questions anonymously.
“There are things like what are the cutest couples and your favorite people, and just basic things,” explains Hanna.
But, the app has a more sinister side. Hanna has already suffered from the mean and insulting words posted under the cover of anonymity.
“They’ll say stuff like ‘kill yourself’ or ‘you’re ugly’ or ‘you’re so fat,’ and it just makes people feel really bad about themselves,” said Hanna as she scrolled through some of the mean comments posted on her profile.
Mother, Miranda Miller, says she and her husband try to monitor the questions and answers on apps like Ask.FM. But admits, the abundance of social media platforms makes it difficult.
“Not just this app, but there’s so much more out there that they could be involved in that I don’t know about. It’s difficult to always know what they’re doing every single day, especially when it comes to their phones,” said Miller. “I am constantly worrying about that.”
At Liberty Middle School in Madison, teachers and administrators are taking a new approach to addressing bullying.
Principal Nelson Miller says it starts with the students’ character and making social media a positive space.
“We’ve had a collection of parents, teachers and our students come together and come up with this idea for this Word of the Week Instagram challenge,” said Nelson.
Each week students capture character-building words like kindness, courage, respect, or courtesy in action, by posting photos on Instagram.
Brown says they can’t control what students do on social media once they leave campus. But he hopes by encouraging social media positivity and responsibility, students will refrain from cyber-bullying.
“We want to make sure our students are not only prepared academically, but also that they can go out and have an impact on society and display good character,” said Brown.