High Tech Solutions to Schoolyard Bullying

Bullying is such a hot issue lately. If you only had the news to go on, you might think it’s a recent phenomenon. But many adults just have to think back on their own childhoods to know that it is nothing new.

Bullying has existed throughout known history, and it isn’t just a schoolyard phenomenon, either. It’s found in every human culture around the world, and it’s even been observed among animals.

Scientists studying bullying theorize that it’s part of the human condition, an evolutionary behavior used to maintain social order. According to evolutionary anthropologist Hogan Sherrow, the targets of bullying are often “individuals whose behavior challenges [or] disrupts” — individuals who “are considered unusual.” It is meant to get them to conform.

But while bullying may have provided an evolutionary advantage in the past, in today’s world it only seems to do harm. It is dangerous, can cause lasting mental health issues, and can even be deadly. Research suggests a strong link between bullying and suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among young people.

Today, the internet has made bullying even easier. Apps like Yik Yak, which allows anonymous messages to be posted, make cyberbullying and hate speech easy to spread without fear of any consequences.

While the internet may have made it easier to bully from a distance, it doesn’t have to be this way. Technology is just a tool — and one that can be harnessed to do the exact opposite: to put an end to bullying.

The seven apps listed below have been designed to fight bullying. Created for teachers, parents, and children, the apps enable you to spot common signs of it, record incidents discretely, report it to the proper authorities, and get the help you need.

If you’re worried about bullying, or need a way to fight back peacefully, check out the apps below for tools to help.

High Tech Solutions to Schoolyard Bullying

High Tech Solutions to Schoolyard Bullying

Bullying has always been with us, but it has only been in recent years that we’ve learned just how damaging it is. Beyond the physical harm, children who are bullied suffer from eating and sleeping disorders, decreased academic achievement, and depression. And that has resulted in the development of various kinds of tools to battle bullying. We look at seven apps designed to help.

1. KnowBullying

  • KnowBullying is an app for parents. It is facilitates conversations between parents and children, providing information on how to start conversations with reminders to do so.
  • How It Works:
    • The app helps parents:
      • Spot the signs of bullying
        • Including if their children are bullies, being bullied, or witnesses
      • Start conversations with their kids about bullying
      • Set up reminders to check in with their kids
      • Learn anti-bullying strategies for a variety of age groups
  • Available On:
    • Android
    • Apple
  • Cost:
    • Free
  • Other Info:
    • The KnowBullying app was designed by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    • They note that when parents speak to their children for as little as 15 minutes a day, those conversations help them avoid being bullied by:
      • Strengthening the parent-child bond
      • Improving self-esteem in children

2. STOP!t

  • STOP!t is an organizational tool for schools, which allows students to to report on bullying as it happens.
  • How It Works:
    • Kids can anonymously report bullying
      • Goal is to stop bullying in the act
    • Users begin by choosing trusted adults (parent, guardian, aunt/uncle, teacher, coach etc.)
      • Users notify adult when they witness cyberbullying directed at themselves, a friend or a peer
      • Can send messages or screenshots
    • The HELPit button allows US users to talk and text a 24/7 crisis support network
    • Available for schools and individuals
      • Each school has a unique ID for students to enter when they download the app
  • Available On:
    • iOS
    • Windows Phone
    • Android
  • Cost:
    • App:
      • Free
    • School rate:
      • $2 – $5 per student per year
  • Other Info:
    • Less than a year after launch, 78 schools were using the app
    • The app creator, Todd Schobel, and his team are working on creating a similar app for the workplace, military, and college campuses

3. Bully Button

  • Bully Button allows children to record incidents and send them to adults with a single click of a button.
  • How It Works:
    • Setting up the app:
      • Choose trusted adults to notify
      • Choose how long audio should be recorded before being automatically sent
    • If the user is the victim or witness of bullying they can hit the “Record & Send” button
      • The audio will record for the user-defined time, and then be emailed to the trusted adults
    • Users can also make calls to parents, friends, school officials or other adults from the app
    • It provides access to suicide hotline
  • Available On:
    • iOS
    • Android
  • Cost:
    • $0.99
  • Other Info:
    • Bully Button messages will continue sending themselves to the recipient until they’re opened
      • OptimizeApps.com, the company that makes the app, hopes this feature will keep bullying incidents from going unaddressed

4. My Mobile Watchdog

  • My Mobile Watchdog is an app that allows parents to monitor their children’s interactions on their phones.
  • How It Works:
    • Smartphone activity is monitored via the Parent Dashboard
      • View text messages*
      • View call history*
      • Block websites and apps
      • Disable apps at certain times
      • Set time limits
      • Set text and call limits
      • Track child’s location via GPS*
      • Approve new contacts
      • Review web history

*Not available on iPhone

  • Available On:
    • Android
    • iOS
  • Cost:
    • $4.95 per month
    • Covers up to 5 children’s smartphones
      • $44.95 per year
      • 14-day free trial
  • Other Info:
    • One father credits the app for helping him build a sexual assault case against a 19 year old who was sending his 13 year old daugher inappropriate messages
      • The case resulted in a seven years prison sentence

5. Net Nanny

  • Net Nanny is an app that allows parents to filter and monitor their children’s activity.
  • How It Works:
    • Parents set up filters on computers and mobile devices to scan for certain keywords
    • Anti-bullying features include:
      • Profanity masking
      • Social media usage monitoring
      • Activity reports
        • Specific features depend on the license chosen
  • Available On:
    • Apple
    • Android
    • Windows
  • Cost:
    • A variety of licenses and subscriptions are available
      • Up to 5 devices: $59.99/year
      • Android: $12.99
      • Apple: $4.99
      • Social media (regardless of device): $19.99
    • A 14-day free trial is available
  • Other Info:
    • Although Net Nanny records visited websites, it only stores this information for 24 hours
    • The latest version of the program is no longer able to monitor instant messaging conversations

6. BullyTag

  • BullyTag is an app that allows people who witness bullying to send anonymous information to school officials in a number of formats.
  • How It Works:
    • Anonymously sends evidence of bullying to administrators and school officials
    • Can be used to transmit:
      • Video
      • Audio
      • Texts
      • Pictures
    • The app also:
      • Gives access to a kid’s help line
      • Allows students to schedule appointments with the school counselor
  • Available On:
    • Android
    • Apple
  • Cost:
    • Free for students
      • Schools pay to use the app
  • Other Info:
    • After messages are sent, the app automatically erases them from the sender’s phone
    • Messages cannot be tracked back to the sender’s phone, protecting students’ identities

7. Anonymous Alerts

  • Anonymous Alerts not only allows bullying incidents to be reported, it provides the facility for the witness to have an anonymous two-way conversation with school administrators.
  • How It Works:
    • Students send anonymous reports to administrators
      • Tipsters can attach their identities, if they so choose
    • Users can also attach photos, videos, and screenshots to reports
  • Available On:
    • Android
    • Apple
    • Chrome internet browser
  • Cost:
    • Free
      • Schools pay a fee depending on how many students they have
  • Other Info:
    • Gregory Bender, the creator of Anonymous Alerts, made the app after the Sandy Hook shootings
      • He was also bullied as a child

Bullying is a serious problem that affects a great many children. Each year, 1 in 3 students can expect to be bullied. But the use of apps like the ones we’ve highlighted here provide tools to discourage, detect, and document bullying. They empower children, parents, and teachers. Within the context of broader anti-bullying campaigns, they help reduce the frequency and danger of bullying.

Sources

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