University of Oulu

Hartikainen H, Ventä-Olkkonen L, Iivari N, Sharma S, Lehto E, Molin-Juustila T and Holappa J (2023) We learned we can do something to reduce bullying: Children designing anti-bullying mobile apps to empower their peers. Front. Educ. 8:1112835. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1112835

We learned we can do something to reduce bullying : children designing anti-bullying mobile apps to empower their peers

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Author: Hartikainen, Heidi1; Ventä-Olkkonen, Leena1; Iivari, Netta1;
Organizations: 1INTERACT Research Unit, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-28


Mobile applications have thoroughly pervaded the lives of today’s children, who live and learn through and with them. However, limited research has been conducted on children designing such apps and not only using those designed by adults. Inviting children to design such apps is the focus of our study. Moreover, in contemporary society, it is emphasized that children should be empowered to take civic action and engage in making the world a better place. In the literature, however, less emphasis has been placed on how children can be invited to do so through the means of digital technology, particularly mobile application design. In this study, 13–15-year-old children are invited to take civic action to address the serious societal problem of bullying through the design of mobile apps. We discussed the design process and analyzed the applications the children designed from the viewpoint of how they aim to tackle bullying. We examined how their app designs aim at empowering other children in the context of bullying, and thus considered what kinds of opportunities emerge for children to learn skills related to the prevention or management of bullying in the apps they have designed. We showed that the children’s app designs informed us of the seriousness of bullying in children’s lives and that they advocate for the empowerment of other children in different ways. Hence, we have increased our understanding of how smart, interactive technologies designed by children address the learning and empowerment of other children, i.e., application users. We also studied the children’s learning from both their and their teachers’ perspectives. This study showcases an alternative way educators can integrate digital technologies and apps in school settings to educate children on important societal matters and digital technology.

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Series: Frontiers in education
ISSN: 2504-284X
ISSN-E: 2504-284X
ISSN-L: 2504-284X
Volume: 8
Article number: 1112835
DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1112835
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
516 Educational sciences
213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: This project was funded by the Academy of Finland (Grant #324685 Make-a-Difference Project). This research is also connected to the Participatory AI with Schoolchildren (PAIZ) project, funded by the Academy of Finland (Grant #340603), and the GenZ project, a strategic profiling project in human sciences at the University of Oulu, funded by the Academy of Finland (Grant #318930). The University of Oulu supports open access to peer-reviewed research articles by covering the publication fees for the article.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 324685
Detailed Information: 324685 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
340603 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2023 Hartikainen, Ventä-Olkkonen, Iivari, Sharma, Lehto, Molin-Juustila and Holappa. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.