Editors note: Teens in Tech is excited to break the news that ReachOut.com is launching a contest for teen developers ahead of its announcement at SXSW this afternoon.
ReachOut.com, the youth mental health initiative created by the Inspire USA Foundation, will launch the National “Don’t Just Stand By” Teen Facebook App Developer Competition this afternoon at SXSW during the “Reaching Teens on Digital Streets Panel.” The goal of the competition is for teens between 13-17 to develop a Facebook application that empowers bystanders of cyberbullying to take action against cyberbullies.
In an increasingly digitally connected world it is imperative to insure the emotional safety of individuals within online communities. The Internet provides a new opportunity for bullies to harass from afar, while hiding behind their computer screens. Bullies no longer physically have to be with a person to cause them emotional harm. Cyberbullying occurs in a variety of forms through digital tools such as email, chat rooms, online social networking, instant messaging and web pages. Moreover, the impersonal nature of the Internet makes bullies more apt to act maliciously.
Cyberbullying usually entangles many bystanders, who don’t speak out against online cruelty. According to Pew Internet’s August 2011 Tracking Survey two-thirds of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining in – and 21% say they have also joined in the harassment. To end cyberbullying, these bystanders must be inspired to take action against the minority of bullies.
The competition, which runs till May 25 and is open to youth ages 13-17, has a few requirements including:
- An emphasis on potential bystanders of cyberbullying between 16-24
- The creating of awareness around cyberbullying and being a bystander
- An empowering call to action for users to create safe online communities
- A positive focus, opposed to negative depictions of cyberbulling
At the end of the Reach Out’s National “Don’t Just Stand By” Teen Facebook App Developer Competition three prizes will be awarded:
- First Place = $2,000 plus five hours of virtual mentorship from an adult programmer
- Second Place = $1500 and one hour of virtual mentorship from an adult programmer
- Third Place = $500 and one hour of virtual mentorship from an adult programmer
The American Industrialist Harvey Firestone once said,
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
Teens in Tech believes strongly in the ability of young people to change the world with technology. That said, we recognize that cyberbullying is the significant issue for teens on the Internet. We are proud the partner with ReachOut.com to help inform teens of the ills of cyberbullying and encourage them to speak up against bullies. By drawing on the collective intelligence and passion of the Teens in Tech community, we can bring an end to cyberbullying!