What is Vent? An app review for parents
The addition to a review about Vent, this blog post also includes parenting tools and information for parents regarding self-harm and suicidal behaviors.
What is Vent?
Vent is a social media application that is based in Australia. It is a way for people to “Vent” their feelings. The app’s tagline is, “Get it off your chest.” The general idea is that people share their feelings on the application on whatever they want.
Using the app is simple. A user creates an account. They can choose a username and upload an icon image. An email is required. The ages for the application according to their terms of service is 13 years of age and older. The user can then begin using the application. Users can comment on posts by other users without subscribing to their feeds. You can also follow users. The app calls followers, “Listeners.”
To begin “venting” a user chooses from a predetermined range of emotions. Emotions are listed under these main topics: Fear, Surprise, Feelings, Sadness, Anger, Affection and Happiness. Under each of these emotions are listed seven additional emotions related to these topics. Each of these categories also has a specific color assigned to it. It should be noted that there are positive and negative emotions available. After this is chosen a user can type in their message.
Once a message is shared other users can engage with the post by clicking on various buttons provided by the app below the comment. These buttons include the following labels: star, hug, yay, aww, share, omg, H4U (Here 4 U) and an option to comment. There is also an option to report a post.
The application is available on iOS or Android devices.
Self-harm and suicide
The potential for reports about self-harm or talk about suicide are large on this application. I should state that there are no articles online stating that suicides have occurred because of this application. While this is true, there have been reports of people using the app to report self-harm behaviors and suicidal thoughts. The creators of the application are aware of this and have addressed it by providing the reporting option.
The company website for Vent also includes the following guidelines regarding self-harm behaviors,
“We want to raise awareness of issues affecting people as we believe this can be a helpful way of coping and getting through a difficult period. Having said this, if you know someone who may have thoughts of self-harm or is going through a tough time, then there are services that can help: IASP Crisis Centre – International Suicide Prevention Directory and IMAlive – Online Chat Crisis Network. Self-harm is a serious issue and must not be glorified or encouraged.”
To learn more about Vent you can read their terms of service .
Children who suffer from anxiety, depression or self-harm behaviors may find reinforcement being on this application because of the high concentration of negative remarks. The environment of Vent is largely negative in nature.
Venting on the internet can be cathartic in some ways but it does not resolve problems. Children need to learn skills like communication, problem solving and decision making to work through difficulties they may be experiencing.
It is a social media application but does not promote healthy social interaction.
Parents should consider implementing the following rules related to electronic devices:
Concerns about suicide
Safety Begins at Home
- The ability to review phones or devices that have apps at any time.
- The understanding that parents can delete or take away applications that are inappropriate.
- A Monthly review of online and internet safety practices.
- Appropriate time limits for children using devices.
- If you find that your child is using Vent, please talk to them. Use the skill of Effective Communication to set some rules and expectations about social media etiquette. You can also use the skill of Decision Making to help your children know how to make better decisions regarding their social media use and what to do if they encounter something inappropriate.
Warning signs for suicide
If you are concerned your child has suicidal or self-harming thoughts or behaviors look for the signs and seek help immediately. Here are some warning signs.
• Talking or writing about wanting to die or to kill oneself
• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
• Talking or writing about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking or writing about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings
- SOURCE: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For help, please contact the National Suicide Hotline.