Jade* is 14 years old and attends a prestigious private girls school in Victoria. I have known Jade since she was 5 years old when I was hired to be her tutor. She has become a wonderful family friend and it has been fascinating to watch her grow over the years.
What books are you reading?
The last few books I have read have been The Kite Runner, The Hunger Games, and The Carrie Diaries (from Sex and the City). I don’t really have time to read – I usually only read for 15 minutes at night before bed.
What is your favourite genre? Why?
Probably romance, drama and chick lit. That’s what all the girls at school are reading.
What websites do you visit the most often?
What is Qooh.me?
It’s a web site that let you ask people questions anonymously – but recently people have been asking me really gross questions so I am going to delete my account. It’s causing bullying at school too because everyone talks about the answers the get from people.
What apps do you use most of your phone?
I use Instagram (probably every second day), Facebook and Kick. I also use Snapchat but that has become a huge problem at school. Some girls have been sending inappropriate images around and then they get bullied for them because everyone passes it around. Everyone knows how to make a screenshot of a snap chat photo so it’s not private at all.
Do your teachers know what’s going on?
No – They don’t really have any idea.
What TV shows do you watch? Do you watch much TV?
I don’t really watch TV. Sometimes I watch X Factor, Big Brother or Home & Away. Big Brother is huge at my school. Everyone watches it.
Who are your favourite bands/singers?
Probably Taylor Swift, One Direction and Justin Beiber.
Who are the celebrities you like/follow?
I am not really interested in celebrities to be honest.
What is ‘popular’ at your school at the moment?
Boys! All the girls talk about is boys. Other than that it’s Big Brother. Oh and everyone is obsessed with tanning. Some girls won’t come to school without their fake tan on. Everyone has Nike sneakers too. It’s popular at the moment to have black Nikes with a pink or white tick. All the girls wear heaps of sports gear too. Black leggings with a pink sports top and a grey jumper is really popular on free dress day. Windsor Smith sandals are really popular too even though they are really expensive. We are not supposed to wear makeup at school but everyone does.
What sort of clothes do you like?
How do you mostly talk with your friends after school? Text/Facebook/Twitter?
Texting I suppose – I would text two or three friends every night after school.
Having known Jade for a number of years, I had already pre-conceived most of her answers. However one website I had not heard on was Qooh.me. Qooh.me is a social website that allows users to ask each other questions anonymously. It is super easy to sign up to and has no privacy settings or age restrictions. Therefore children, teenagers and adults can all be asking each other questions with no indication of who is who. Jade also spoke at length with me about how dangerous she thought the website was and how she was receiving some pretty inappropriate questions from unknown users. Renta Rowe – the principal at Ivanhoe Grammar in Victoria – has also witnessed Qooh.me becoming a problem at her school:
“[Qooh.me] is also a site that invites users to ask questions anonymously and therefore provides a protective platform for malicious questions and statements. The site does not seem to respond if a comment is reported and does not take down or intervene in the cyberbullying or trolling that I have witnessed my students experiencing.”
It is important that both teachers and parents are aware of these social network sites and whether their student’s or children have an account. The thing with popular social networks like these, new ones are popping up all the time (Qooh.me reminds me of a similar platform that was popular for a while called formspring.me now called Spring.me). However, we must try and keep abreast of what these teenagers are engaging with, in order to provide them with some kind of protection online. Bramley (2012) offers five ways parents can talk to their children about the dangers of Qooh.me which can be accessed here.
The best way to protect our students is to encourage open and honest discussion in your classroom at every opportunity. Knowing what your students are engaging in out of the classroom is a wonderful way to better know who your students are, and begin to understand the world in which they are living (as best they can).
Bramley (2012, June 18). If you’re a parent you had better know about Qooh.me [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.barriebramley.com/if-youre-a-parent-you-had-better-know-qoohme/
Rowe, R. (2012, August 28). What is Qooh.me? Your tweens and teens are all over it [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://icybersafe.com/2012/08/28/what-is-qooh-me-your-tweens-and-teens-are-all-over-it/
Featured Image 1: Accessed from www.qooh.me
Featured Image 2: Accessed from http://www.kekicks.com/nike-free-run-black-pink-p-1427.html
* Name has been changed