Mark Bridge writes:
With mobile phones becoming smarter – and increasing numbers of children using these smartphones – it’s not surprising to hear that bullies are taking advantage of mobile technology. ‘Cyber-bullying’ is now in the Oxford English Dictionary... and some people have even called for a ban on mobiles in schools in an attempt to reduce bullying.
Taking a high-tech perspective in the fight against mobile bullying is Sedgrid Lewis, CEO of Spy Parent LLC. His company recently launched an anti-bullying application for mobile phones. It’s called Bully Block and currently costs just 80p ($1.29) in the Android Market.
Before becoming an app developer, Sedgrid had experience in the fields of juvenile crime and social work – so he seemed the perfect person to talk to about mobile phone bullying. I started our conversation by asking him how much of a problem mobile bullying and cyber-bullying was.
“From our experience it’s a huge problem here in the United States with the explosion of social media. There used to be more of a ‘traditional’ bullying situation where kids would get into fights in schoolyards; now it’s a lot more of kids harassing each other - verbal attacks, a lot of threats - over their cellphone, over the internet. The US Department of Education did a study: over a million kids have been [cyber] bullied over the last year. Parents haven’t caught up with the technology.”
So what does Bully Block do?
“It has a couple of features. One is your standard ‘block’ feature, which means that any inappropriate call that comes through, any inappropriate text message, any inappropriate picture, the user of the phone can block those pictures, those texts and those phone calls. The other feature is there’s a ‘stealth recorder’ to address more traditional bullying. If a kid is surrounded by a bully, there’s a button that will turn the application into a stealth recorder, meaning they can record any sound around them without that person knowing.”
Sedgrid also offered advice for parents whose children are being cyber-bullied.
“Don’t take away a child’s line of communication. We see a lot of parents that take away the cellphone once these incidents start happening; that’s one of the worst things you could do because what usually happens on a child’s part is they don’t tell out of that fear they’re going to get their equipment taken away. Don’t over-react, listen to what they have to say.”
|You can listen to the full interview with Sedgrid Lewis about cyber-bullying and Bully Block on our website, via iTunes or by downloading the MP3 file.