For this assignment, I decided to look at the mobile application called STOPit. Because I am looking to design an application with a reporting and logging function as well as communication with others within the app, I thought that this would be a good application to analyze.
STOPit is a mobile application available on both android and apple phones and tablets that focuses on stopping and eliminating the issue of cyberbullying (and bullying in general). The designers of this application attempt to do this by putting the power to report these incidents and events in not only the victim, but bystanders. The application is allowed to be used by an individual or can be used in correlation with schools if they enroll in using the program. While the application was designed to target acts of cyberbullying, the app can be used to report any acts of violence, danger, or bullying that occur within a child’s environment.
With the individual version of the application, the user has the ability to report any acts of bullying (both cyber, verbal/mental, and physical/in-person) to a trusted adult which they choose to program into the app as a contact. This trusted adult can be “a parent or guardian, aunt or uncle, a favorite teacher, club leader, or sports coach, a school counselor, or a close family friend” (STOPit website, How It Works page) and once they are selected and added to the application that can be contact and anytime through the mobile app. Once a trusted adult is added, a user can elect to report at anytime and has the ability to communicate from within the application with the trusted adult on the situation in real time.
The second way that the STOPit app can be used is in combination with the STOPit school program. This has a separate application which comes with a code students use to access the application for their personal school environment. Once they have downloaded the apply, students have the ability to report issues related to their school environment both publicly and anonymously. Administrators can then communicate with the reporting student through the application to resolve the issue. On the back end, the school uses the sister program for STOPit called DOCUMENTit, which allows them to track and monitor all reports from students and keep detailed records on the issues in their schools.
When looking at this application and how effectively it address the social issue of cyberbullying (or bullying in general), I believe that this application does a great job of not only addressing the issue and where is occurs most, but also in creating a app that actually provides a solution. The application is designed mainly for school aged children at any grade level, so have a user centered design that provide ease of use and access in extremely important to this application. As noted in the Light and Luckin article, application design depends on “one’s sense of people’s capability to determine needs and use for themselves [and others]” and states that while some users may prefer simplicity other may results more advanced levels of use (Light, 2008, p. 16). I believe that the STOPit app does a great job of combining the user needs of both its young and older target audience. The overall simplistic design with few buttons and large font is attractive and easier to read for young users, however the functions within the application have varying levels of difficulty within allow older users to still find purpose in the application (regardless of age). Below is a youtube video that shows a news broadcast that showcased the STOPit application during it technology hour. The reporter details some of the features and notes the programs success in only its first year of public use.
When looking at how the application address the issues of privacy, surveillance, and accessibly, I believe that the application does a fairly good job but as all applications do falls short in some areas. On the issues of privacy, the application allows the user to report an incident by identifying themselves or doing so anonymously. This protects the user, but also brings into play the issues of surveillance and sousveillance. This application thrives and works on the success of social surveillance which Alice Marwick defines as “the ongoing eavesdropping, investigation, gossip and inquiry that constitutes information gathering by people about their peers, made salient by the social digitization normalized by social media” (Marwick, 2012, p. 382). By taking advantage of this, the STOPit application is able to use our human nature of being social to allow the user to report behavior that are deviant from our social norms. In terms of accessibility, this application is not easy for people to use that have vision impairment. The application relives on the secrecy of the screen, and so providing a text reading options would not be helpful as it would give away that the user is making a report. The best way for the creators of this applications to could look become more accessible to those with vision disabilities through understanding that “there are a number of ways to define literacy” (Chipchase, 2008, p. 80) and use “trial and error” to see what works and what doesn’t when testing the application with this particular group of individuals.
Overall, I believe that this application is a good example of a social justice application and I will be referring to it’s design when creating my own application later in the semester.
Chipchase, Jan. (2008). “Reducing Illiteracy as a Barrier to Mobile Communication.” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 79-89
How It Works | STOPit mobile app and school program. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2015. (citation and photo images)
Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.
Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.
STOP!T app aims to stop cyberbullying. (2015, February 25). Retrieved March 8, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avb2xJhhQZY