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“Ugly App” Could Damage Teens’ Self Esteem

Jonathan Singer of Temple University

CBS News in Philadelphia recently turned to Temple University School of Social Work Assistant Professor Jonathan Singer when they needed an expert to comment on a new cellphone software application, or “app.”

The “Ugly App” allows users to take cellphone camera pics that software analyzes to determine whether a person is attractive or not.

It may sound like harmless fun but Singer, DSW, who is a National Association of Social Workers member and cyber bullying expert, said it could be harmful to teens.

He urged parents monitor how their children are using such apps.

“When you get a teenager who is so concerned about how other people see them to have a computer program that says you are ugly could be devastating,” Singer said.

To see the full news clip, click here

UPDATE: Singer has also been featured in other news outlets on this subject.

To read what Singer had to say in a related story on WHYY, a public television and radio provider in southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey, click here.

Singer also offered advice to parents on how to deal with this issue in Time Magazine in March. To read that interview, click here.

And WRTI-FM talked to Singer in March about cyberbulling. You can listen to that conversation by clicking here.

Social workers often help young people overcome life’s hurdles. To learn more, visit NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Kids & Families Web page by clicking here.

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  1. Great article. I am concerned about other applications such as “FormSpring” and “Honesty Box.” These applications allow you to post questions and solicit anonymous responses as well as post anonymous comments to others. Teens use these surveys to find out what others (read… their junior high school peers) think about them. I have seen teens use this to feed their ego, to attack others, and then have the whole thing backfire and crash on them. Suddenly, when the mean comments come back at you.. well, it’s not so fun anymore. It can be very vicious.

  2. I don’t think the issue should be over controlling these applications and Web sites, rather teaching our children better values. These things are going to exist in life. They have happened before and will continue. As a society, though, it is our responsibility to teach children that this is not appropriate behavior and that it hurts others. However, adults and media (created from adults) many times give the wrong message to their children and that’s the break down.

  3. It’s a reality that whatever trend & innovated machineries of man have always positve or negative effects on mankind. We can never do away with disease in this world…we always have to choose from the lesser evil…lesser disadvantages. We always seem to be prone to trauma of the challenges in life here on earth where we could practice our free will provided by the Lord our God.

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