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New app gives teens the tools to combat cyberbullying

Teen-led charity Sticks ‘n Stones has this month launched a free web app to help young people dealing with online negativity and harm.

The web app – ICON (In Case of Online Negativity) – has been conceived, co-designed and tested by Sticks ‘n Stones’ members across New Zealand, with support from an interactive designer and developer.

“ICON has been created with the belief that young people can make good decisions for themselves, provided they have good information to start with,” ICON project manager, Keryn Tubbs, says. “It offers comprehensive solutions, guides you in your decision and empowers you with the right information you need to take action.”

Sticks ‘n Stones CEO, Karla Sanders, says the average teen spends at least two hours online every day. Most of the time their experiences are positive, however when it’s not going well, things can go downhill fast and teenagers often don’t seek help. A 2015 Sticks ‘n Stones’ survey of almost 1500 young people aged 12-18 found that 48 percent of those who had been bullied in the previous six months had told no one and not reached out to anyone for support. Bullying is linked to long lasting negative outcomes including loss of confidence and self-esteem, poor mental health and drug or alcohol misuse or abuse. One in four girls (24%) and nearly one in seven boys (14%) have been asked to share a nude or nearly nude image in the last 12 months, Netsafe research in 2017 showed.

“We created ICON to help young people help themselves early on, before things go really wrong,” Karla says. “It’s a positive, non-judgmental, easy and intuitive option that will help them make decisions, move forward and get on with their lives.”

Available through any web browser at www.icon.org.nz; ICON is a clear, easy to use web app to help teens explore options and troubleshoot online negativity – from nudes and cyberbullying to hate and abuse. It includes more than 25 real life audio stories from young Kiwis about their experiences with online negativity. These are in their own words and show the range of issues being faced by teens today. The app covers everything from the most practical solutions right through to information about your rights and the law related to the situation, and the services that could help. Watch the video for how to use ICON.


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