What parents need to know about Yahoo! Answers

What is it?

Yahoo! Answers is a question-and-answer (Q&A) website, where users can ask questions and have them answered by strangers. Under the cover of anonymity, people ask virtually any question imaginable, and receive all kinds of answers. Questions and answers are organized into categories; anyone can browse to form an idea about the latest human thoughts, curiosities and worries. The idea is to encourage people from all over the world to share and learn from one another. It is true that its popularity has declined somewhat over the years, but there are people that still use it.

Is it appropriate for children?

Yahoo! Answers might not be the best place to leave children unsupervised since there is no guarantee that their questions receive proper answers. Some parents have complained that some users gave their children unhelpful, insulting, or inappropriate responses. Although swearing is forbidden, some users find ways to bypass this rule.

Some questions and answers contain information that parents wouldn’t want their children to read about on the internet. They would rather talk about those issues face to face. Such topics include sexual subjects in the Relationships and Family section. Moreover, a significant chunk of the information there has hardly any real value. One may wonder “is it legal to name a dog after a movie?” or “how to unbake a cake?” another “is it safe to throw your hair in the garbage?” and the debate following these questions can simply become a waste of time.

Some content posted raises significant concerns for children’s safety. The answers thread can also contain cyberbullying comments or aggressive remarks directed to others.

How to protect children on Yahoo! Answers?

Children ask a lot of questions, and parents may be tempted to redirect them to places that can feed their curiosity. But before allowing your children to use Yahoo! Answers, you must read the child safety recommendations from Yahoo! Answers Safety Center and the Community Guidelines.

Here are the highlights:

1. Use an avatar for the child’s profile (instead of a real, identifiable photo)

2. Use a nickname to keep the child’s identity a secret. The Yahoo Answers identity is associated by default with their Yahoo profile and they could share private information unintentionally.

3. Check privacy settings and together decide the visibility of their questions, answers, and who can follow your child.

4. Talk to them about what they are going to ask or answer on Answers, especially if the content is publicly accessible.

5. If another community member is annoying them, tell them it’s OK to block that person.

6. Report abusive content, abuse or inappropriate contact your child has with other users.

7. If you have more questions about how to keep your child safe on Yahoo! Answers, you yourself can try posting them on Yahoo! Answers to gain first-hand experience with the platform.

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