Tackling Cyber-bullying with Smartphone Apps

Cyber-bullying is a serious problem for many children in the UK, and across the world. A recent article by the BBC suggested that schools in England are the worst for online bullying.

The prevalence of smartphones and social media usage among young people has indeed made bullying even worse. It is a worrying thought that a child could not only face peer bullying at school but at home as well.

There have been calls for social media sites to be better regulated. However such companies have been loathe to take any serious action.

So what can be done to tackle the cyber-bullying problem we have here in the UK? Besides these crucial steps such as anti-bullying awareness in schools and calls to regulate social media, there may be another tool at our disposal. This tool pertains to tech!

Introvert Edit brings to you apps you can use to tackle cyberbullying as we follow this years theme ‘Change Starts With Us’.

Apps to Tackle Cyber-bullying


A number of App creators have sought to create tools that will help cyber-bullied children and young people. One example being the BBC Own It App.

Once installed, the App relies upon machine learning and prompts users to use a special keyboard. The App prompts users to rethink what they are saying online when they type personal information or harmful words.

It is hoped that real-time inventions such as these could help young people from saying regretful things online, and prevent needless hurt.

Interestingly, thanks to machine learning the App can detect the language that may be used when a young person is in trouble and signpost avenues of help.

However, this is not the only anti-bullying App available in the UK. A government funded App called Tootoot also aims to tackle the issue. Tootoot is available to young people 24 hours a day.

The App itself allows young people to screenshot abusive messages and send them via the App. Tootoot then sends the proof to the young person’s school to be read, and acted upon, by staff. Students in the UK from 300 participating schools are currently able to use the Tootoot App.

Why AI is so important in tackling the issue

Billions of us use some form of social media worldwide. As a result, it would be impossible for human moderators to check all of the posts and messages on them. This of course makes bullying much harder to prevent. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning can step in.

AI is so interesting because it uses machine learning to improve its performance of a task. Researchers are using AI or machine learning to help detect bullying language online. One researcher from Ghent University used an algorithm to detect bullying language on Ask FM. The algorithm reportedly captured 66.66% of insulting messages.

While such tech has yet to be perfected, it provides a valuable tool in tackling cyber-bullying. What makes the matter so complicated is that online bullying encapsulates much more than a rigid list of profane language.

Many social media platforms are using algorithms to help filter out potentially offensive posts due to language use.  For example Twitter. Instagram in particular gone further by using machine learning to detect bullying in photos also.

Again, while these measures are a step in the right direction they do not completely solve the cyber-bullying problem. Bullies may end up adapting the way they bully online to bypass more rudimentary criteria.

What to do if you are being bullied online

Cyber-bullying is a huge problem among children and young people today. However, people of all ages may find themselves being subjected to abuse online. In fact, a YouGov poll indicated that a quarter of adults in the UK have experienced cyber-bullying.

Whether the perpetrators are bullies from school, work or are complete strangers, victims need not suffer in silence.

The NSPCC website is an excellent source of support and advice for young people being bullied and their parents/carers. For adults, the Cybersmile Foundation website offers a wealth of information and support on the issue.