The app designed to make you feel bad - Kids bullied by the latest iPhone craze

By SIMON WELLS and SARAH DUNN-JONES
Last updated at 10:21 AM on 22nd Febuary 2011

With cyber bullying on the increase and the recent closure of website LittleGossip, there is now another IPhone application being used as a tool of hate on school playgrounds. 'Dr Sam Rates your Looks' is an app that purports to pass a scientifically based comment on how attractive you are.

It has quickly become a favorite of classroom bullies, who have realized that the app is much quicker to condemn than to praise. Last week in Gateshead, a 13 year old boy was sent home from school for taking photos of other pupils in the lunch queue and sending the negative rated students to the back of the line. A spokesperson for the school said that, "they had received complaints about a specific app, and even though phones are banned in school, pupils often flouted the rules, especially during breaks and lunch." She added, "developers of applications such as Dr Sam were making the problem worse, as bullies are quick to pick up new technologies and use them to 'make other pupils feel ugly and unwanted'" She went on to call for parents to keep a closer eye on what smart phone applications they allow their children to download.

Further south, a school in Oxford has reported a craze where individuals are being targeted by users of the Dr Sam app, and having their ratings uploaded onto social networking sights such as Facebook. One pupil, branded 'a mouldy old douchebag' by Dr Sam has been kept home from school, and is being treated for depression.

douchebag

Not Appy. 12 year old Steven Turnridge and his mother Jenine. Inset: The offending 'rating'

We spoke to some pupils at King Edward's School in Hackney, and asked them what they thought of the app. Damien Harper, 14, thought "The app is funny. I don't mind if it calls me 'Mr Buff Ting' or 'Moose Chops'. It's fun, and we do it loads until we get a good one to put on Facebook"

But things are different for fellow class member Charlene Paige, 13: "I don't have an iPhone so it means that I always end up as the butt of the jokes. I got called a 'Nanny Magnet', and now everyone is calling me that. I think it's more fun for boys who want to show off or make other people feel bad."

dr sam ratings

Offensive: Nasty images of UK teens, taken from facebook. These images can be uploaded without the subject's consent.

On support sites set up to combat all kinds of cyber-bullying, parents are expressing concern and calling for Dr Sam and similar apps to be banned. They scored a victory last week when the notorious rumour spreading website 'Little Gossip' was voluntarily closed down by its owners following a high profile media campaign. Parents are hoping that by raising awareness that the creators of cruel apps such as Dr Sam may do likewise.

The problem with Dr Sam, as opposed to other face rating technology seems to be the breadth of insults available, from percentage ratings to endless lists of hateful jibes. "Kids don't need encouragement or new ways to belittle each other", says head teacher Mary Swanface. Dr Sam has been a hit with adults - but in the hands of kids, "it's a weapon of malice"

anti dr sam app

The Daily Mail is launching a campaign to ban all non-useful smartphone apps. 'Dr Sam Rates Your Looks' is the most recent in a long line of cruel apps, portraying users as overweight, bald, as zombies among many others. Enough is enough! David Cameron speaks of a 'Big Society', and The Daily Mail feels like this is a great place to start. Support can be pledged by emailing appban@dailymail.co.uk. We will to present a document of signatures to parliament by 2nd April 2011, in time for the Gibson debate, which will see the introduction of a bill designed to put tougher regulations in place to end cyber-bullying.



 

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

This website attacks people without them knowing. as a student at a local school that I attend, hurtful, rude comments were posted about me. I only came to find out about this when a fellow student at my school told me about it on 'Facebook'. 'Little Gossip' and another website 'Formspring' should not be acceptable on the internet. They give us students something to feed on, and to get carried away with hurting others. 'Formspring' allows individuals to sign up, have 'followers' and receive comments from other people. Although you yourself have to sign up, the 'anonymous' button still allows a lot of abusive comments. I was disgusted at the content on 'little gossip' and 'Formspring' and extremely pleased that at least one of these websites have been shut down.

Click to rate     Rating   3

As i go to i private school Im not in the least surprised about some of the comments made. I understand most are inapporopriate but some are funnt comments which i admit shouldnt be posted on the internet. As for the comments about private schools posting on state school people should just ignore them, i went to a state school all though primary i got stick for my accsent and there i live but u just have to rise above it .I think that some of these comments could be pupils writting about there own school. My school is quite well known for rugby so it has been comments about how bad or that there not going to win a certain compation, my view on this is its just alot hot air schools. I looked at this site a couple times as i find it quite amusing, i know how lucky i am to go to my school, but i dont think theres students do. If these teenagers are so bold as to write these spiteful comments about other students they should have the courage to say it to there faces it could be delt with.

Click to rate     Rating   2

Its all over - Site was taken down and they have removed almost all schools with under 18s. Site was back up last night but down again this morning..

Click to rate     Rating   3

I completely agree that it is a ridiculous site practically made for bulying but i also think that students who go on it are only bringing upset upon themselves. If they cannot handle it then why go on the site in the first place? i know the site should not exist at all however bullying is also very high on many other sites too, including facebook and definitely formspring and i must say i am highly annoyed by the mention of private schools! just because people don't have to pay thousands of pounds for an education doesn't mean they don't get bullied! i was informed of comments being left FROM those from private schools to those of state schools labelling them as idiots and god knows what else because they dont get a 'decent' education apparently state schools are just as good an education as private schools thankyou very much.

Click to rate     Rating   3

Last night my son received very abusive comments on this website telling him "to go and slit his wrists". I cannot beleive that when you are sitting in the safety of your own home you can be insulted and bullied. I work with volunerable teenagers with differing life difficulties and mental health issues, comments like this could seriously tip someone over the edge. I seem to spend enough time policing what my children are accessing on the net without sites like this popping up. I am pleased to say that my son handled this comment well and although upset and angry at the annonymous person who posted it for a short time, with plenty of TLC and a long explanation about the cowards and idiots that he may have to endure during his lifetime. I'm so pleased that someone has seen sense and has removed this website before it causes serious harm .

Click to rate     Rating   4

I find it interesting that despite having pretty much every school in the country on it, it is private schools that are picked out and written about. Yes, parents pay an awful lot for their children to have the education that they so luckily receive. Having attended a private school myself I have been astonished by the amount of abuse that simply attending one gets, from not only the Media but also those unable to attend them. It is important to realise that, although on the surface these comments may seem simply inappropriate (and I realise that some are), they are in fact part of a school joke that, yes, shouldn't be published on the Internet for all to judge and see but are totally harmless. Having looked at comments from my previous school it is apparent that many people make comments about themselves more often than not. This will be the case for many schools. This has nothing to do with being a private school. It's happening everywhere.

Click to rate     Rating   40

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