Parents and teachers should be aware of a new app sweeping through Ireland which is raising concerns of anonymous cyber bullying among students.
The SimiSimi app is marketed as a ‘cute’ artificial intelligence robot which collects user comments on subjects and generates responses based on these comments when questions are posed to it.
These comments are made anonymously by users of the app. Once made, the comments cannot be deleted or reported.
Cyber bullying is a huge risk with apps that promote anonymity. Kids and teenagers feel protected by this anonymity and often do not restrain themselves from making cruel remarks about others. The risk for kids using this app is that they can search their own name and see what others have said about them without being able to filter or see who made the comments.
Many Irish teens have taken to reporting the app on the Irish itunes store as a dangerous and irresponsible invention. One reviewer wrote:
“Irish teenagers as a whole face unbelievable pressure everyday, the pressure to be liked, the pressure to be popular and the pressure to be “perfect”. Teenagers do not need an app like this where anonymous bullying can take place. Is all the money you’re making really worth the mental illness that this app could cause? All over the world teenagers are downloading this app, looking up their name and being heartbroken at SimSimi’s reply.
For teenagers who are already being bullied or ridiculed online or off, this app could be more than devastating. I’m imploring you as not a company but as a group of people to at least filter the app in a way that makes bullying or abuse relatively impossible. You can’t report comments that come up, everything is anonymous which makes everyone suspect and the worst of all is that people are getting hurt. ”
The Irish Times reported that several secondary school principals have already contacted parents regarding the SimiSimi app and have implored them to talk with their kids about the cyber bullying risks associated with using such apps.
SimiSimi is currently the top downloaded app on the Irish itunes stores. Parents are advised to monitor on an on-going basis the apps used by their children to help prevent cyberbullying