There are a variety of bullying smartphone applications available for parents who want to track their child's phone activity. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 14, 2011)
News 12 at This Morning / Friday, Nov. 14, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It can happen on Facebook with a simple post or through a mean text message. Bullies use different outlets and that's why some parents and teachers may never know about them.
"This is the way children and adults live their world. Applications on a phone are commonplace if we enter bullying into that commonplace, we are addressing it," said Duane Halbur, an associate professor of counseling at Augusta State University.
Halbur is also a father of two children that are growing up fast.
"And both of them can operate my iPhone," he added.
It's that technology Halbur is trying to keep track of. He's explored the world of anti-bullying apps.
"Some of them track what you text, some of them take screen captures and some of them are just a GPS finder," he said.
You can even set up the apps to look for specific words and you'll get a message when that word is texted to your child. Downloads like the My Mobile Watchdog does it all for you.
"I think it is a good way, I think it's effective. You know where your child is, what they're saying, if they are bullying or they are the bully," explained Halbur.
Halbur says you should let your children know you're installing the software on their phone to address any privacy issues, but it's not just about monitoring every keystroke.
"The ones that I like the most are free. They are the supporting messages for kids who might get bullied," Halbur said.
The Bully Shield App pops up advice for different situations, even for students that are bystanders.
"I think giving kids positive affirmations, regardless of the source, does help them," Halbur said.
In a world where most children read and write on a glowing screen, anti-bullying apps could alert you to a problem before it's too late. The cost depends on which app you download and the features it may have. Some are free, but many start at 99 cents up to $2.99.
My Mobile Watch Dog can cost cost $9.95 a month. You don't need your child's permission to install the apps, but you do need access to their phone to install the software.