With proper use, these five apps can help educators and parents combat cyberbullying in schools
No matter what generation you’re from, it’s evident that bullying has consistently played a role in the educational system. In movies, it’s usually the stereotypical intimidating character going for children’s lunch money, or in some cases, it’s the popular kids bullying less-popular students.
But for today’s generation, bullies have become more of an unstoppable obstacle for students. While mobile phones have improved communication, they also have heightened the lengths of what being bullied can entail.
With social media and smartphones, everything is open. Regardless of what teenagers believe, getting rid of a digital footprint is hard. Often, apps are used for the wrong purpose.
Just a year after being released to the public in 2013, Yik Yak has become popular for all of the wrong reasons. Creators Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll developed this app in the hopes it would bring college communities together.
In an interview with Venture Beat, Buffington admitted that while college kids were falling in love with the app, high school students were too. As reports surfaced about students abusing the app’s anonymous aspect to bully others both creators removed its use from middle and high school zones.
“’They didn’t have the maturity…they’re just not psychologically developed enough to handle our app,’” said Buffington in a June interview. “’They weren’t using it for what we built it for.’”
While technology provides easy access to information and makes communication among distant family and friends easier, it also provides new platforms for kids to tease and torment each other.
Teachers and administrators aren’t able to block cyberbullying at all times, but a potential solution exists in cyber security apps. Take, for instance, the following programs.
(Next page: Five anti-bullying apps)
Awarded the 2010 Parents’ Choice Silver Honors Award for top mobile app for kids, Mobicip includes a range of controls that are sure to help teachers, administrators, and parents. With three restriction levels, Mobicip blocks sites and apps depending on their age. For example, if your student is in middle school they wouldn’t be allowed to go onto chat sites and social networking apps. (Cost: Free)
My Mobile Watchdog
Created for parents monitoring their children, schools can use My Mobile Watchdog to get alerts on a teacher’s computer when there are questionable texts, photos, and videos being sent. With schools working alongside parents this particular app can help to prevent cyberbullying in schools and at home. (Cost: $9.95 per month for one student)
With Net Nanny, notification monitors are able to send alerts when specified alarming keywords are used. School officials and parents can work together to come up with a list of words to put into the system in order to keep track of circumstances that arise. This program also has the added benefit of working on computers and mobiles. (Cost: $39.99 per year for computers)
Trend Micro’s Online Guardian has a slightly different motivation in its creation. After a mother witnessed her daughter being cyberbullied, she did what any parent would do and found a way to help. Online Guardian allows parents and educators to track social networking sites. Because the majority of cyberbullying occurs on social media, this program is ideal in prevention. (Cost: $49.95)
The backstory of SocialShield is similar to Online Guardian; SocialShield was founded by two men who heard their friend’s daughter received unwanted attention from an adult on Facebook. By using cloud-based software, SocialShield has the ability to be accessed from anywhere via computer or phone. While teachers can use this program to receive alerts pinpointing on keywords parents can also help by setting their own restrictions regarding sites students can visit. (Cost: $10 per month)
Gaby Arancibia is an editorial intern.