Cellphone app to help troubled teens

By Anne Collier

Las Vegas Sun reports. The app – designed by Turning Point Experience, an “organization dedicated to helping students avoid destructive influences in their lives,” and the Southern Nevada Community Gang Task Force – is called “Destructive Issues” and “includes a question-and-answer page and a series of scenarios explaining the pros and cons of choices teens make. For instance: Why a teen might be inclined to join a gang.” The app also has “a prevention section with tips for parents, teachers and others, an intervention section describing how to help someone with a destructive habit, and a resource list of national hotlines, websites, organizations and other places for getting help.” An app like this for teens is coming next. These are information rich resource that would have to be designed by experts, but here’s an idea that occurred to me during an online-safety meeting at Google yesterday: Develop a contest in which kids develop safety and privacy apps themselves, as peer mentors, using Google’s easy-to-learn App Inventor tool for Android phones. With it, young app developers can also create games, quizzes, and learning resources – without having to write software code (instead, they do “visual programming” using drag-‘n’-drop blocks. “Open Blocks visual programming is closely related to the Scratch programming language, a project of the MIT Media Laboratory’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group, Google says.

Here’s a youth-created “application” of a different sort: the Say It 2 My Face anti-cyberbullying campaign in Facebook, reports Ypulse. Created by University of South California student Taylor Audette, it challenges peers “to rethink the words and actions sent from behind screens.” As of this writing, Say It 2 My Face has 1,352 friends.

Leave a comment