March 17, 2015

    Apps Fight Back Against Cyberbullying

    It seems like every day a new social media app is popping up online, and before long stories of people using those apps to bully begin to surface. But not all apps are a scary new trend. Some apps are fighting back against cyberbullying.

    Apps like STOPit and Censorgram were developed to help kids cope with cyberbullying. After hearing about thedeath of Amanda Todd, STOPit creator Todd Schobel cameup with the idea to develop an app that would allow students to submit anonymous bullying reports directly to their school administrators. Schobel believes it’s important for school officials to be involved in instances of cyberbullying. STOPit is now used in 78 schools in 13 states.

    “With cyberbullying there are no school grounds anymore. If it affects the learning environment for the students, the school has to take action.”- STOPit creator Todd Schobel,

    While STOPit seeks to give kids an easy way to report cyberbullying, other apps are trying to make sure kids never see the bullying in the first place. The creators of the Censorgram app hope to keep hurtful language from appearing on a child’s Instagram. Users can enter keywords or phrases that they consider harassing and the app removes any comments or posts containing those words.

    Teens take a stand

    It’s easy to turn on the news and be bombarded by reports of teens bullying each other online, but there are some teens who are doing just the opposite.

    Last year four seniors from Penn Wood High School in Pennsylvania won the “Anti-Bullying Mobile App Challenge” with their app, Fear no Bully. The app, now available on Android and iPhone devices, gives students a quick, anonymous way to report cyberbullying. The app also provides links to resources to help kids cope with cyberbullying and empower them to report it.

    Brandon Boynton, a high school student from Indiana, also saw a need for an app in his school. Boynton’s school had a “bully box” where students could anonymously submit instances of cyberbullying, but it remained empty. So Boynton sought to take the bully box digital.

    “One day it just hit me and I was like, ‘Wow, there are so many people into this issue, no one wants to actually go up and put a physical piece of paper in the box because it’s typically in a very populated area of the hallway and people are going to see you. It’s not really anonymous.”- BullyBox creator Brandon Boynton,

    Boynton presented his app at the 6th annual Saunders Scholars Finals in Washington D.C. and hopes to have his app fully functional in the future.

    Although cyberbullying isn’t an easy problem to solve, it’s encouraging to see people, especially teens, trying to help. What do you think of apps like these? Are there any other ways to use technology to help fight cyberbullying?

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