Top Anti-Bullying Apps Parents Need to Consider

Sep
2012
05

posted by on Anti-bullying apps, Bullying, Cyber Safety, Cyberbullying, Internet Safety, Parenting, Parenting Teens

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Though still a frequent character in comedic productions, no one likes a bully–and no one should have to put up with bullying.

Gone is the fantasy where Butch and Woim threaten Spanky and Alfalfa, and the latter duo simply hatch a scheme that ends with their tormenters covered in rotten produce, grimacing and shaking their fists. Real-life bullying more often than not leaves victims with physical and psychological scars–or worse–and scheming revenge often does little more than increase the possibility of mayhem.

While this is a complex and volatile issue for all involved and can’t be solved by simply downloading an app, there are a few that have the potential to prevent bullying.

  • Stop Bullies is an iPhone-only app that lets students report incidents directly to school officials. The service costs $700 per school, which includes an anonymous email reporting service with Google Maps GPS locations, customized anti-bullying tools, and push notifications to all devices in the school’s network. The drawbacks to such a system are obvious: Bullies can submit anonymous reports as easily as victims, victims have to take out their iPhone to submit a report (potentially exposing a valuable item to the attacker), and many victims of bullying cannot afford an iPhone. Despite these negatives, the Stop Bullies model can follow through on the promise of its name by giving victims a means to report bullying with little to no fear of repercussions, and giving school administrators valuable data to work with law enforcement to effectively deal with bullying.
  • Bully Button is a single-user, 99-cent app with potential stopping power. Upon installing the app, the user enters parent, friend, and school contact information and configures the default audio recording length. Once the app is launched, a large “record & send” button is visible. Pressing the button records for the default length, and at the end of that time, the recording is emailed to the user’s emergency contacts. Like any app, getting to the appropriate screen in an emergency requires any number of steps, but Bully Button has the steps pared down to a minimum. Perhaps knowing that a recording of a confrontation will automatically end up in the hands of responsive adults will deter some bullies, and hopefully none are savvy enough to know too much about wiretapping laws.
  • NearParent is a clever app that allows families to create lists of safe contacts, safe zones, and settings to keep track of each other’s locations. While the interface suggests the app is intended for children below high school age, there is no reason it cannot be used effectively even by families with little ones in college. When a user is in trouble, safe contacts are shown on a map within the app; clicking on a contact places a phone call. With tracking enabled (which significantly decreases battery life), parents can configure alerts for when a child has left a predetermined zone, and children can see where their parents are.

While the drawbacks and issues to anti-bullying apps are somewhat obvious, it is also easy to imagine situations in which they could prevent a confrontation and even save a life. Butch and Woim would not be so quick to ambush Spanky and Alfalfa if they knew their intended victims were armed with technology and surrounded by a network of caring, responsible adults, ready to act in their defense.

Special contributor:¬† Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and Law Enforcement. He has written on a vast variety of topics from Atlanta BBQ to Louisville air conditioning to California Dreamin’. He has never been a bully. Promise.

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