New smartphone app aims to tackle cyberbullying

Europe is taking steps to deal with 'highly mediatised phenomenon' of cyberbullying, writes Agnes Uhereczky.

By Agnes Uhereczky

11 Jun 2014

The European commission funded the #DeleteCyberbuylling project under its Daphne programme, which aimed at raising awareness around Europe on the phenomenon of cyberbullying.

The work started in early 2013, and was the successful cooperation of eight organisations from seven different countries, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, UK, Bulgaria, Greece and Finland.

"Cyberbullying is a highly mediatised phenomenon, which in the most dramatic cases can contribute to teen suicide"

The partners brought different perspectives and experience to the project, but all agreed that effective prevention and early detection of cyberbullying is key, and can be best achieved by informing parents, teachers and teens about the different forms it can take, and how to react.

The project was a very ambitious undertaking, and among others delivered a successful conference in Madrid in May 2013, a very popular short educational animation (with over 50,000 views on YouTube), as well as the application for phones and tablets, for the time being for Android only, with the iOS version expected in September.

Cyberbullying is a highly mediatised phenomenon, which in the most dramatic cases can contribute to teen suicide, and as such is usually associated with it. It can, however, have very different effects on young people, as well as adults, and even though less dramatic in outcome, can greatly reduce quality of life for many.

"Often the victims are too ashamed to speak out, and internalise the problem, which only makes it grow bigger"

These nasty or taunting messages, fake profiles, horrible comments pursue the victims 24/7, and can cause a loss of self-confidence, school avoidance, drop of academic results, isolation, social exclusion, and even depression or other mental health problems. Often the victims are too ashamed to speak out, and internalise the problem, which only makes it grow bigger.

Through the tools developed by the partnership, key messages are to speak up, and tell a trusted adult about cyberbullying. It is also important to keep the evidence with screenshots, photos, e-mails, and if the cyberbullying hasn’t stopped, the police should be contacted.

The app aims at answering questions teens, parents and teachers may have about this phenomenon through an interactive quiz, to test knowledge, but also through a self-diagnosis tool, which also directs victims or worried parents to the designated help phone-lines and chat-lines, where they can contact directly the professionals for specific advice in their own country and their own language.

The project also raises awareness about the issue and calls upon the expression of solidarity and civic courage through the virtual, online 'big march' being held on 11 June.

 

Form more information and to download the free app, go here: goo.gl/9dLqhL

Read the most recent articles written by Agnes Uhereczky - PM+: Empowering families will boost EU economy

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