For a seventh-grader armed with a smartphone, constant internet access can sometimes lead to cyberbullying. But now having a phone in hand can also fight that problem.
A new app called STOPit is designed to make it as simple as possible for students to anonymously report Facebook taunts or tormenting text messages that parents or schools might not otherwise see.
The app’s creator was inspired by the story of Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old girl whose video about being bullied–posted hours before her suicide–now has millions of views on YouTube. “When I saw the video, that was it,” says STOPit founder Todd Schobel. “It changed my life.” Schobel, who has young children, had never heard of cyberbullying but realized that he could help create a solution.
“The kids that are participating in this are viewing all this stuff on devices,” he says. “They have it right in their hands–so why not let them report themselves and help one another?”
The app isn’t the first to attempt to curb cyberbullying, but it’s designed to be easier to use. A new version out this spring will allow students to report an instance of cyberbullying with a single click, without even launching the app. Other apps tend to ask a battery of questions to gather data, which Schobel says often makes kids give up.
“Once the students get in an emotional state where they see horrible stuff, their first reaction is ‘How can I help this person?'” Schobel says.