April 27, 2015
After School App is a messaging platform for high school students where they can post anything school or non-school related, within their high school's closed network. The posts show up on the app anonymously so that the students can contribute freely without fear of judgement or repercussions.
The app exploded in November of 2014 with over 100k downloads in the first two weeks of its launch. However, it was banned from the App Store in December 2014 after concerns about cyber bullying and misuse of the app. The creators wanted to make the app as safe to use as possible, so they formed a “Safety Board” made up of psychologists, teachers, and child safety non-profit leaders. They redesigned the app and came up with several safety changes, including:
- Every post is reviewed by a human before being seen by the community.
- If the post indicates self-harm or concerning behavior, a message will be sent offering live, anonymous support with a live person
- If a post contains mature content, users must prove they are 17 by scanning the back of their driver's license.
“Our main concern is providing a safe and secure platform for young people to get together, share and bond with their schoolmates. With our new live support feature we hope that we can provide assistance to troubled young people and save lives. Sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic ear to lighten the load of a problem“, says Cory Levy, COO of After School App.
According to a press release, After School App currently has over 250k users and is in 65% of American high schools. The main goal of the platform is to provide a closed network where young people can hang out, express themselves and bond with others in their school community in a safe and responsible manner.
High school can be a stressful time for kids. For most, it's a growing period where they are figuring out who they really are, sorting out their values and beliefs, and developing their unique voice in this world. However, all that learning and discovery can come with insecurity and fear of judgement from their peers. Perhaps I have a cynical view of the average high schooler, but I have a feeling that no matter how many filters there are for messages on this app, there's no way to protect users 100% from bullying or other nastiness. But on the other hand, maybe it doesn't need to be 100% safeguarded or else it might lose some of its authenticity. If it allows kids a mostly safe space to give their opinions and have constructive conversations that could improve their high school experiences, this app could be a very beneficial tool.
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