New app targets bullying
When Keryn Tubbs discovered an anonymous Instagram page set up at her high school to embarrass other students, she not only got the page taken down, she got thinking.
Tubbs, now a second year law student at Victoria University, is the brainchild behind a free web app, In Case of Online Negativity (ICON). The journey started in 2016 when, as a 17-year-old senior member of Sticks ‘n Stones, a youth led bullying prevention group, Tubbs supported students who had private photos shared on the public page. She was able to get the page taken down, but she worried about other teens who might not know how to deal with online hate, negativity or harm.
Her solution was ICON – a web app developed to support Kiwi teens that could provide relevant information for someone who felt helpless to make their own choices about what to do next.
The first phase of getting her project off the ground was to explore what help was already out there.
‘‘Google searches gave pages and pages of results that were general and written mainly for adults. We felt really judged and embarrassed and we were not even dealing with issues. We thought there had to be something we could do that would be different and could help someone to not feel so helpless.’’
Tubbs created a plan and, with support from Sticks ‘n Stones members and chief execu- tive Karla Sanders, successfully applied for funding from the Vodafone foundation to create a prototype of her idea. From there, she applied to the Netsafe Partnership Fund and led a team of teens from across NZ to make ICON a reality, she said.
‘‘It is not an alternative to the incredible services already out there but a way of making sure that teens have the information at their fingertips to connect with them.’’
The app is available through any web browser at icon.org.nz
Keryn Tubbs has developed a free anti-bullying web app, ICON (In Case of Online Negativity).