The problem’s not the app . . .

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The other day my wife showed me this article on CNN. It was about a particular app called Yik Yak. You can read all about it from there website here or read about the Android app here. The basic premise is that Yik Yak uses your location, and lets you post whatever you want anonymously and the people around you can see those posts and then everyone vote them up and down. If a post gets voted down enough it disappears. The app is free and available on iOS and Android. The article on CNN talks about how students are using this app to bully and bash people online. Since there is no account/sign up there is no way to track down who said what. This type of article usually brings about such questions as . . .

  • WHAT WILL WE DO?
  • HOW CAN WE STOP STUDENTS FROM USING THE APP?
  • SHOULD WE BAN DEVICES?
  • HOW CAN WE BLOCK THIS WEBSITE/APP?
  • IS IT THE END OF DAYS?

OK, that last one is a bit of an exaggeration but it all boils down to the same thing – fear. This is not new nor is it an original idea/article. Let me show you some examples.

I have seen this article before with Facebook.

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I saw it before with Twitter.

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I’ve also seen it written about FormSpring.

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I’ve seen it written about SnapChat too.

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Let me tell you people, the problem here isn’t Yik Yak. The problem is how our students are treating each other. It is the actions of the individual or groups of students that need to change, not Facebook, Twitter, Yik Yak or any other app or website.

Think about a time when there were no apps, no smartphone, and no widespread wifi. Even without these tools bullying was around and schools were battling it. It is true, these apps can make it easier for students to bully but let’s put it in perspective. The app didn’t teach this behavior or condone the student’s action. The app didn’t tell them how to do it. The app developers weren’t wringing their hands together evilly and hoping to bring about the end to the modern world. So how is banning the app or putting it under a microscope going to stop bullying? The short answer is it won’t. At best it will drive it underground for a bit and then it’ll come back-maybe in the form of a different that app but the bullying will continue.

I’m not saying changing a person’s behavior or getting a child to see and understand the harmful effects of bullying is easy because it’s obviously not. If it were, bullying wouldn’t be a problem and we would have taken care of years ago. However, attacking the app and banning it isn’t the long term solution. I would even say that it is a poor solution. Start by education yourself. Here are some very good websites to get started:

There are plenty more out there – just search for them.

Then get your counselors involved – they are the real experts here and ignore those fear mongers at CNN and other websites that tell you to beware of certain apps. Don’t be afraid of technology, embrace it, learn about it and then teach our students the appropriate ways to use it or at the very least know how to walk away from something that isn’t healthy for them and how to seek out help if they need it. This method will yield better results than just banning and talking about an app.

Patrick Cauley
http://www.thetechjonsey.com

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About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
This entry was posted in cyber awareness, Opinion, Patrick Cauley. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The problem’s not the app . . .

  1. Pingback: Podcast 79 – Bill Clinton is boring | Technology in the Classroom

  2. This is one of those messages that cannot be repeated enough. I would add to this discussion the “10 mom doctrine”. If you take 10 mom’s and sit them around a table, and ask them “what would you do if you found out your kid was using (insert digital tool here)”. You would get 10 profoundly different replies. My point is that parents need to talk with kids about their choices, and support them to make good choices.

    I think schools need to meaninfgully partner with parents as well. Anything is better than banning it (and as cell-phone based tethering becoming even more ubiquitous, it’s harder to block than ever).

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