Let’s face it…technology has a grip on the youth of our Nation. The use of technology through smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, tablets, and computers has children facing a different kind of danger then we did growing up. Bully Block, a new Android application by Spy Parent LLC, addresses a very serious and important issue in a simple innovative fashion. Parents now have an opportunity to proactively address this concerning topic by protecting their children from the serious harm that can be inflicted by cyberbullying.
Bully Block at the Amazon Appstore ( $.99, 5 stars)
Bully Block at the Android Market ($1.29, 4.5 stars)
- The Facts
In a study done in February 2010 by the Cyberbullying Research Center, over 4000 students were randomly surveyed ages 10-18 from 37 different schools. Many stats from this study stood out to me (you can read the entire article by True Care Awareness Online here), but the most significant one in my opinion is the fact that 20% of the students have been cyber-bullied in their lifetimes. Astoundingly, 17% of them have been cyber-bullied within the last 30 days! As a high school counselor at my day job I have seen firsthand the prevalence and impact cell phones have in schools. Rumors, threats, harassment, and teasing are all very common in the school setting via cell phone; students no longer have to physically be present to harass someone. At my school this year there have been two fights and several instances in which the administration had to call the police because of messages passed along via cell phone. This does not include the countless minor conflicts and drama caused by rumors and gossip circulated by text message.
- WhyBully Block Can Help
Bully Block can instantly stop any type of harassment or cyberbullying through a cell phone. Although this application is very simple to use there are several features that make it a functional method to immediately stop unwanted behavior. I’ve now extensively used each of the features and I absolutely LOVE this application. As a high school counselor I was very curious about Bully Block because I really wanted to see if it could be a resource for families I work with. After reviewing the app…I would easily recommend Bully Block to parents of a student being bullied or harassed on their phone. I will also recommend to my school administrators that we include Bully Block in our staff and parent training on cyberbullying. Bully Block has a simple user-friendly interface, which in my opinion is critical, as a child should be able to pick it up and immediately utilize each feature to stop cyberbullying.
- How does it Work
The basic concept of Bully Block is simple; block people from calling and texting any cell phone equipped with the application…while being able to chronologically log, save, and share the information. If someone is harassing you by sending text messages or calling your phone, you can block the number or their text and never have to deal with it on your phone again. However, that’s not all Bully Block can do. There are several ways the application collects data of events so you can report exactly what’s happening to police or school officials. Let’s take a closer look:
Bully block has 5 options…each has a unique and useful role
1: Bully Block List
The Bully Block List gives you a list of all the phone numbers you have blocked. If you happen to accidentally block the wrong number you can easily “unblock” the number and continue to receive calls & text. I blocked my wife’s number for example and did a few experiments; I was able to easily unblock the number through the Bully Block List afterward. I was very impressed with the speedy and effective results. We were just testing the app but I saw firsthand how frustrating it can be if you know your messages are not getting through to someone. My wife had to double check and make sure I “unblocked” her number multiple times.
Bully Block SMS gives you the option to select any text message already on your phone. Once you do so… you can block the numbers incoming calls or SMS messages. Another amazing feature is you can auto respond to a SMS message (or phone call). There is a dialogue box in which you can type in whatever message you want the bully/blocked caller to receive (“You have been Bully Blocked Buster”, or “the police are monitoring your text messages”). The text sent from any blocked number does not come through on your phone (saving on your text totals); there is no notification so your child will no longer have to see any ugly messages.
Not only can you block SMS messages and send an auto response, you can also email (“Tell Someone”) or forward (i.e. to Mom’s phone) any SMS message you receive. If you email or forward a detailed Bully Block message you will see the source of the call (phone number), the exact time and date, and the message from the bully/harasser. This information, simply displayed and easily sent, could be extremely useful if you were to pursue legal action or choose to report to school officials. In my opinion this is the most useful and impressive aspect of the application; Bully Block serves as a deterrent and a reporting device, while maximizing your child’s privacy.
3: Bully Block Calls
Bully block calls is exactly the same as the SMS block except you can access your call log and choose any number to block. It will bring up your call log and you are able to document how often a bully/harasser was calling. Again, very beneficial if you were attempting to get a restraining order or report the harassment.
Initially I thought Bully Capture might be able to record my phone conversation with a bully/harasser, but I was mistaken. When I tried to record during a call the application was forced closed. I contacted the developer and he informed me the intent of Bully Capture is NOT to record phone calls; it is to conceal the fact that you are recording someone you are in direct contact with. In other words, if a bully comes up to you and begins making threats, you could activate Bully Capture and record the conversation, which can also be stored and shared via email. Although I was disappointed that I couldn’t be my own secret service agent and record my phone conversation, Bully Capture has a useful purpose. The application completely disappears (goes into stealth mode) once you begin recording, and you simply re-launch the app to stop the recording after the bully/harasser is gone.
The last option is basically a running log of everything you decide to save. Bully File will automatically log calls and text from numbers you have blocked. You can also manually file phone calls, SMS text, and recordings in the Bully file. This feature allows you to compile the evidence and then send a comprehensive and chronological account of the harassment. As a high school counselor I have seen many instances in which families just don’t have enough proof to take action. Bully Block allows families to get the proof they need to not only stop the harassment and bullying, but to make it much easier for police and school officials to address the issue. Authorities won’t have to go through phone records and several different accounts; they can simply review an email containing an entire account of the harassment. The one downside here is you are not able to delete anything in Bully File. I spoke to the developer about this and he said they are in the process of creating a “cloud” system in which you would be able to upload and manage info.
- Alternative uses for Bully Block
Although I feel the most effective use of this application is to prevent cyberbullying, and the target audience here is likely parents of kids being bullied, there are certainly other possible uses. One that instantly comes to mind is the ex-boyfriend/stalker for women. The app could be used in the same way to report and prevent stalking and harassment. You could use the app to stop telemarketers from calling you, sending an auto response like “you are being reported for your unauthorized telemarketing call”. You could use Bully Block as a “out of office” type response when you know you will not be able to get to your phone (i.e. when you lounging on a beach in Hawaii). Don’t feel like talking to Mom/Mother in Law for the next few days/weeks? ;) You could also use the app to send a friendly auto response to your buddy who sends 20 texts a day that you’re almost out of texts. This could save you money as his texts don’t come through. Obviously, many phones have these kinds of options, but I just wanted to show Bully Block has some versatility.
If I had a child of cell phone carrying age (my son is not yet 2 so I am a little hesitant to give him a smart phone without Toddler Lock activated), I would equip the phone with Bully Block and train my son or daughter on how to use it. Even if they have not been bullied or harassed, as we have seen by the statistics, there is a good chance they may be. Bully Block can provide piece of mind for parents and children; knowing there is a way to combat the very serious and growing issue of cyberbullying.
At Booyagadget.com we pride ourselves in saving you time and helping you spend money wisely…in this case I feel we may also save you and your family from the damage a bully/harasser can cause. Bully Block is Booya and High School Counselor approved…I would strongly recommend trying it out.
Filed Under: Booya Baby
About the Author: Booya Cuz and Booya TRJ We are out of the great Pacific Northwest and enjoy writing these helpful articles and videos for you.