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Download for Bullies?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

A new iPhone application has parents and educators worried that it will become a tool for bullies.

It’s called the “Ugly Meter” – a cheap download that scans people’s faces, measures how symmetrical they are, and then scores them accordingly. An “ugly” score is accompanied by a nasty message, like – you are so ugly, you could be a scarecrow.”

Jonathan Singer is a professor of Social Work at Temple University. He says this application could be very hurtful to teens, who often struggle with self-esteem issues, and put so much value on the opinions of their peers.

Singer: “If a peer says you are ugly that is something that really means a lot, because developmentally, peer groups are very important. And if you have a belief that you are ugly, and then somebody takes a picture and says well the computer program confirmed that, then that’s just a lot more information that this fear is correct.”

He says parents can play an important role in persuading their children NOT to use technology to taunt others:

“One of the things you need to do developmentally is to turn it around for the kid, so that they can imagine what it would be like for themselves, to have that happen.

Singer says an ongoing and open conversation about the issues is the best defense for parents in preventing their children from being or becoming a bully.

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