Fighting Bullies from Your Phone

Heard At Last: Evaluating Student Reception of Anti-Bullying Technology

Reviewed by Chris Meyer
January 10, 2015

The growth of big data and mobile applications has impacted fields ranging from consumer goods to local governance. In his highly original analysis, former Georgetown undergraduate Sohyale Sizar examines the proliferation of anti-bullying applications in school districts across the country. Sizar not only provides an overview of these tools, but also carries out a statistical analysis of specific case studies in order to determine the efficacy of anti-bullying technology.

The nuance of Sizar’s analysis rests in an understanding that technology is hardly a panacea for social problems. Ultimately, the utility of anti-bullying tools depends on the students and school administrators that use them. Indeed, Sizar’s analysis finds that “integration of such technology into schools is difficult, given the administrative, legal, and bureaucratic obstacles that exist.” Although the paper’s statistical analysis finds that students are more likely than not to use anti-bullying technology – especially because it provides a solution to obstacles like a social stigma around “snitching” – Sizar also argues that the technology will only work as part of a concentrated and unified effort by parents, administrators, and students.

The breadth of Sizar’s statistical survey, however, leaves something to be desired. Sizar notes that the analysis focuses on a single school, and therefore cannot control for income or racial factors. Furthermore, the statistical survey required students to self-report bullying incidents. Some incidents, therefore, may have gone unreported in the data set.

View the full paper here!

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